Paul Smith: An Original Voice of the Customer

Paul Smith: An Original Voice of the Customer
A tribute to a dear friend of Winnebago
By: Russ Garfin, Director of Product Management

 

Paul and Barb Smith

Winnebago has made listening to our customers a way of life, especially when it comes to our product design. An inspiration for this philosophy was our great friend and a true pioneer of the industry, Paul W. Smith, who lost his battle with cancer this past Saturday. 

As the owner of an RV product company, Paul was passionate about motorhomes and finding ways to improve them. This eventually led to a long-term relationship with Winnebago where he had the opportunity to share his expertise through evaluating new models and to help us provide product knowledge training to sales professionals across North America.

I’ll never forget the first time I met Paul, he was presenting the features and benefits of our Storemore Sliderooms at the RVIA Trade Show in Louisville in the early 90s and he was doing it from an owner’s perspective. I had never seen someone do such a thorough job of explaining how our owners would benefit from this new technology and I sat through two of his presentations just to make sure I got it all.    

In the coming years, I would have the good fortune of working with Paul in our product training department as well as in product planning. Always, Paul brought the voice of the end user into our discussions. He was so passionate about making the RV experience better for our owners that he never missed an opportunity to share his knowledge. If one of us wasn’t listening, well, Paul had no problem repeating the message to others until somebody got the job done.  

Paul working with dealers for dealer product training program

In fact, Paul’s message was such a critical part of our dealer product training programs that many of our dealership managers would ask whether Paul would be there before they would commit to sending their sales team! Sales professionals loved Paul’s inside knowledge of what was important to owners and their job got easier when they could use Paul’s experience to help them show the benefits of our products.  Many of our team members and dealer personnel were influenced by his Winnebago and industry knowledge.

His passion for Winnebago and his love of our owner community was motivational to all of us at Winnebago. His assistance to countless owners over the years endeared him to the community, especially to our diesel pusher owners. Paul and his wife, Barb, also supported and participated in WIT Club rallies for many years – they were always proud to help inform Winnebago owners on how to best utilize their RV. 

At our last Las Vegas based Dealer Days event, he even managed to sneak a few of the brand-new models that had been just introduced to Winnebago dealers over to the WIT Southwest Regional Rally held several days later. Attendees were delighted for the exclusive first look and Paul had child-like excitement showing off the latest and greatest from his favorite RV brand. The Paul and Barb team not only helped sell many motorhomes, they brought many people into the Winnebago family.  

On a personal note, Paul and Barb have been an indispensable part of my team, not just assisting with our training and our dealer events, but supporting me with advice and positive reinforcement throughout my career at Winnebago. I know he had a similar impact on many of us at the Company and his influence helps drive Winnebago successes even today. 

All of us at Winnebago will miss Paul’s friendship, and our sympathy goes out to Barb, their beloved family, and to Paul’s many friends. Read more about Paul’s extraordinary life here

Thank you, Paul. Rest in Peace.