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CEO Michael Happe maps new route for Winnebago

Patrick Kennedy, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Automotive News

Happe said the proximity to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport helps the team stay connected to all its facilities, plus suppliers and dealers.

The move to the Twin Cities also has helped the company recruit talent, including new Chief Financial Officer Bryan Hughes, who started in May.

Hughes is a longtime Ecolab executive who has 25 years in financial management roles at the St. Paul-based industrial manufacturing company.

Yet Happe and his team are no strangers to the two-hour drive to the company's Forest City, Iowa, anchor. He said he has added about 40,000 miles to his car since he started in January 2016.

"We've had zero discussions with our board of directors about whether the headquarters of the company should change formally," he said. "The soul of the company is in Iowa."

The location of Happe's office doesn't alone define the company headquarters, said Myles Shaver, professor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota who has studied corporate headquarters strategies.

Where the CEO resides really raises the issue of how nuanced a corporate headquarters is. "It can be misleading just looking at the formal address," Shaver said. "Most big companies have multiple headquarters."

Moving forward

Winnebago on Thursday released results for its fourth quarter ended Aug. 26 and its fiscal year.

The company exceeded analysts' sales and earnings expectations, reporting annual revenue of $1.55 billion, a 59 percent increase from the previous fiscal year, and earnings of $71.3 million, or $2.32 per share. Analysts expected the company to report revenue of $1.53 billion, and a 33 percent increase in earnings to $2.23 per share.

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