07 Feb 2019

A Course Correction at Chris-Craft

How two classmates helped steer a venerable boating brand into more favorable seas.


Stephen Heese (MBA 1988), left
(photo by mbr/Sarasota Herald-Tribune/Thomas Bender, AP)

A recent article in the Des Moines Register detailed the story of how two alumni—Stephen Heese (MBA 1988) and Stephen Julius (MBA 1988) helped steer venerable boating brand Chris-Craft into calmer waters.

Heese and Julius are the founders of the private equity firm Stellican, which—as detailed in the story—focuses on “rescuing neglected heritage brands,” and had already helped reverse the fortunes of Italian boatmaker Riva. The plan for Christ-Craft? Getting rid of generic model, and focusing on “watercraft that were high-quality and unusual in their focus on nautical beauty.”

Stellican purchased the company in 2001, and sold it to Winnebago in June 2018. Looking forward, Heese—who serves as Chris-Craft’s president and CEO—notes that plans include expanding the plant and the payroll as well as the customer base. “There are parts of the market we don’t participate in and we're going to be able to migrate into those. … Right now, we compete mainly above 25 feet and there’s a lot of market below 25 feet, so we don't have to go very far down to pick up a lot of potential market.”


Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1988, Section F
Class of MBA 1988, Section E

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