Winnebago Industries, Inc., an outdoor lifestyle product manufacturer, announced that president and CEO, Michael Happe, has been named a winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year Heartland Award.
Honored for bringing a bold vision to Winnebago Industries when he joined the company in 2016, Happe has led the company through a significant evolution driven by organic and inorganic growth. The acquisitions of Grand Design, Chris-Craft, Newmar, and Barletta, as well as major growth of flagship brand, Winnebago, has created a leading company in the outdoor recreation industry.
“I’m humbled and honored to be recognized among such a strong group of business leaders from across the region,” said Michael Happe, president and CEO of Winnebago Industries. “This award really speaks to the collective effort of the incredible team of employees we have at Winnebago industries who work tirelessly to create lasting memories for families and friends, connecting them with the outdoors, one great adventure at a time.”
Happe has championed moving the company from a product-oriented manufacturer to an enabler of outdoor experiences that puts customers, employees and the community at the center. During his tenure, he has revitalized the Winnebago Industries Foundation, with community giving growing 20x since 2016. Happe has also been committed to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, by transforming the makeup of the board of directors and hiring the company’s first DEI leader.
“Every year, we are completely blown away by the accomplishments of our Entrepreneur Of The Year Regional Award winners, and 2023 is no different,” said AJ Jordan, EY Americas Entrepreneur Of The Year Program Director. “They are change-makers and champions of business and community, and we are so proud to be honoring them. We can’t wait to see how these leaders will continue to improve lives and disrupt industries.”
Winners of the award are selected by an independent judging panel made up of previous award winners, leading CEOs, investors and other regional business leaders. The candidates were evaluated based on their demonstration of building long-term value through entrepreneurial spirit, purpose, growth and impact, among other core contributions and attributes.
The Heartland program includes entrepreneurs and leaders from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. As a regional winner, Happe will next be considered for the Entrepreneur of The Year National Awards, which will be presented in November at the annual Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum, a preeminent meeting of high-growth, market-leading companies.