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Winnebago Industries buys pontoon manufacturer, Barletta Boats

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:17 PM EDT
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ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - Pontoon boat manufacturer Barletta Boats will soon be owned by RV manufacturer Winnebago Industries, both of which have locations in Elkhart County.

“I wanted to partner with the right kind of company, and that’s somebody who is going to take care of our people and do the things we do, care about quality, care about the customer, and just do the right things. I have absolute confidence that they’re that company,” Barletta Boat Company President and Founder Bill Fenech said.

Winnebago says expanding into the marine segment has been a priority after having already acquired luxury boat company Chris-Craft Boats.

“We’ve been watching Bill and Barletta for years, and eventually got together and started talking about what a great opportunity it would be to partner together,” Winnebago Industries President and CEO Michael Happe said.

Both Barletta and Winnebago say they don’t foresee the acquisition creating much, if any, change for their workers.

“We look to partner and acquire very strong businesses on their way to further greatness, and so we don’t anticipate any employee or labor disruptions in the short term,” Happe said.

Barletta says their company is already growing and the acquisition will not automatically create any new jobs. Rather, the biggest change will be going from a private to a public company under Winnebago’s ownership.

“They’re going to let us run our company, but they’re going to help when we need it. They’re going to have expertise that we don’t have, and we’ve already identified several things like oh man, this is going to be great,” Fenech said.

Founded in 2017 with a little more than 300 employees currently, Barletta says this deal will give them access to resources they haven’t had before, and they are hopeful for what’s to come.

“I’m really excited for everybody, all the stakeholders in our company. Including the county and our people, everything. I think it’s only going to get better for everybody,” Fenech said.

Both company leaders say they are always looking for hard-working employees to join their businesses, so if you’re interested, you can visit Winnebago’s website and Barletta Boats website.

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