Even though RVers will tell you, "We love RVing because it allows us to get out, get away from it all, and enjoy a simpler lifestyle," they still want to stay connected and in touch no matter where they are. And if you think we're kidding, go and check out any new RV and see how many you find that aren't wired up for television and Wi-Fi.
Why today, most RVs come with at least one flatscreen TV, and in most cases two or three. You'll find TVs in the living rooms, bedrooms, and even outside. And if you don't see a TV, don't think it's not there, you just have to look for it. The best way to enjoy TV in your RV is with satellite reception using a fixed or portable satellite antenna.
There are numerous companies that sell satellite antennas, but only one company engineers and builds its own components and systems in-house here in the USA. And they began building TV antennas back in 1953.
Today, we visit Winegard and sit down with company president and COO, Grant Whipple, to learn all about the company and its products, past, present, and future.
Grant Whipple: "Winegard started in 1953 by John Winegard, and basically he wanted to receive television signals when that was the only way to communicate, the only medium from Chicago. So, he developed one of the first multichannel TV antennas, pointed it at Chicago, received the broadcast from there.
And that was sort of the beginning because, you know, neighbors, friends heard about it that they were able to receive television from that far away. And the rest was sort of history obviously. He repeated that and made other antenna systems for other people in Burlington, and that's how it all started.
Now, from there, of course the next real step was C-band satellite. So, if you remember the really large 8 to 12-foot dishes that rural America was putting in their backyards, that was Winegard. And so, we moved from TV reception to satellite TV reception.
From there, we moved on to, as the technology has improved, to much smaller DVS satellite dishes, which is today's modern-day Dish Network, DirectTV, those types of services that are allowed.
And of course, that really worked well for mobile applications also because the antenna size got so much smaller. And of course, as we continue to progress, we've moved on into other wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, and other wireless broadband communications as we sit now." What impressed us the most is that Winegard produces all its components in-house, from small metal brackets to the satellite dishes.
And where most companies buy their circuit boards usually from overseas, Winegard produces all its own boards right here in Burlington, Iowa as Grant explains. Grant: "Depending on the circuit board, it, of course, goes through-- more complex circuit boards will go through various stages of tests throughout the process. And what we're checking for is all the data and information that's moved throughout the board to make a-- let's take a satellite system that moves around and automatically locks onto the correct satellite. We want to make sure that that's functioning correctly before we even place it into the product itself. So, as that's populated and built, we test it at various stages to make sure that all connections are there, all the RF components are in the right place, and then it moves on throughout the assembly process.
Winegard believes in doing virtually everything in-house. And that philosophy includes the customer service department, as Grant explains. Grant: "We actually have over 20 technicians and customer service agents who sit right here in Burlington.
So, they understand the assembly and the factory itself and everything that's going into that. They're all trained before they start on all of our wide array of products. And that close vicinity right here, as opposed to outsourcing the customer service to somewhere else in the country or even outside of the country, we think is also much more efficient and gives the customer a much better experience because the people understand the product here and they know what they're talking about, as opposed to having to talk to somebody outside our company walls only to have to wait to get an answer on what's going on, et cetera. So, we really like to give as much customer service as possible to make that ownership experience a good one." Learn more about Winegard here.