June 12, 2018

Chris Craft Corsair 34In its first-ever venture into the recreational boating market, Forest City, Iowa-based camper trailer and motorhome manufacturer Winnebago Industries Inc. has acquired Chris-Craft Boats. 

“Chris-Craft is an iconic, premium brand that shares many similarities with our own heritage Winnebago brand, including a commitment to providing customers with the highest quality products and services,” said Winnebago Industries president and CEO, Michael Happe. “The company’s strong brand, high-quality product line and premium position in the marine market make Chris-Craft an attractive addition to our portfolio.”

The acquisition of Sarasota, Florida-based Chris-Craft marks Winnebago’s debut in the marine market, with the company hinting that further acquisitions are possible as Winnebago seeks to diversify within the outdoor lifestyle market. “We believe there will be synergies realized across our value chain and that the Chris-Craft business has material expansion opportunities available,” said Happe. “Additionally, we see significant intersection between the RV and marine lifestyles and view marine as a natural adjacency to our existing outdoor lifestyle portfolio, with similar customer demographics and significant ownership crossover.”

In a presentation to investors, Winnebago identified several opportunities to grow the Chris-Craft business, including adding production capacity, adding new models to its existing lines, extending the Chris-Craft nameplate into new boat categories, and expanding the global dealer network. Licensing agreements are also being considered.

Changes to Chris-Craft’s day-to-day operations are expected to be minimal. Current Chris-Craft president Stephen Heese will continue to lead the business in the same role, and the company is expected to remain in its existing 170,000 square foot headquarters and manufacturing plant located near the Sarasota, Florida airport.

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