The year was 1974. Nixon was getting himself into trouble, Hank Aaron was chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record, and Cyril Van Zeeland was running a Ski-Doo, Kawasaki, and John Deere powersports store in Little Chute, WI. He had already been through the paces of business management with a gas station, a radiator repair shop, and a small-engine repair shop, but he was far from finished. In fact, he didn’t know it at the time but Cyril was on the brink of a legacy that would become the Team Winnebagoland we know and love today.
As a man of experience, determination, and proven success, Cyril was always on the prowl for a way to better provide for his wife and four children Lee, Mark, Joe, and Lu. By now, twelve men had been to the moon and Vietnam was coming to a close, thus presenting a world of opportunity for the Van Zeelands. It was at this time when “Cease” was approached by Kawasaki with an opportunity to open a second location in Oshkosh, WI. With family on the brain, Cyril opened Winnebagoland Kawasaki on County A. This is a Team Winnebagoland creation story.
Before the new store could open, the building was in need of much renovation, a project that began right away. The dream was all too real! During these renovations, an interested buyer presented Cyril with another opportunity to sell the original location on Highway 41 in Little Chute. More money for the new building AND more time to spend with family? The decision was an easy one.
Starting fresh, Cyril opened Winnebagoland Kawasaki in 1975 with his son, Lee. By 1977, business was booming. Star Wars was in theaters, Apple Computers was getting its start, and Cyril’s second son, Mark was hired on after his high school graduation raising the employee count to three. It was the beginning of a new age! In 1981, Cyril’s youngest, Joe finished school, and they were officially all working together to build Winnebagoland and find “the next best thing” in the industry.
With four Van Zeelands committed to customer service and quality, Winnebagoland Kawasaki was growing fast. Cyril was then able to hand off much of the management duties of the business to his sons as he focused on expansion, adding a new warehouse and extra shop space into the mix.
By 1990 the business was doing well enough to acquire the Yamaha franchise from Fun Mobiles in Oshkosh and more growth was on the horizon. In 1994, the three brothers broke ground on the soil that Team Winnebagoland sits on today to construct the building you know and love. This exciting project earned Winnebagoland the attention of Polaris Industries who presented an opportunity to add Polaris ATVs and snowmobiles to its already successful Kawasaki and Yamaha franchises.
On June 6, 1995 the new 21,500 ft² building was open for business and the name Team Winnebagoland was officially born. Since the grand opening of the new store, more than 10,000 square feet of show floor and warehouse space has been added to the property to cater to the ever-growing customer demand. Not too shabby! In the early 2010s, Triumph Motorcycles was added to the list of franchises and Team Winnebagoland as we know it was complete.
Today, our store is owned and managed by Lee’s three children, Tom, Nick, and Rachel. With their guidance and a team of more than 30 employees, we strive to enhance the customer experience in any way we can through sales, finance, service, and fun events!
Team Winnebagoland is committed to providing Winnebago and surrounding counties with whatever powersports needs may present themselves. As the industry changes, we will be here helping our guests have fun in any way we can. One of the ways we plan on doing this is with Yamaha jet boats! Boating on Lake Winnebago and Lake Butte Des Mortes is a joy that we want to share with Wisconsin. To do this we will soon begin construction on a new building next door to our current one devoted to watercraft and personal watercraft sales.
Our story is a fun one and our Team is irreplaceable, but we do what we do because of you, the customer. Thank you for reading and we hope you will give us a chance to wow you the next time you are in search of your next motorcycle, scooter, ATV, UTV, snowmobile, personal watercraft, or boat!