Chris-Craft special edition Launch 27
Chris-Craft special edition Launch 27 Courtesy of Chris-Craft

A Voyage through Time: Chris-Craft Unveils Heritage-Inspired Launch 27 on its 150th Anniversary

Interview with Stephen Heese, President of Chris-craft

On a sun-drenched afternoon at the Miami International Boat Show, nestled within the vibrant atmosphere of the Miami Beach Convention Center, Brandon Travin of Resident Magazine had the distinct pleasure of boarding the elegantly appointed "Anniversary" edition of it's Launch 27 for an exclusive interview with Stephen Heese, the President of Chris-Craft. Celebrating an impressive 150 years of maritime excellence, Chris-Craft's dedication to luxury, innovation, and craftsmanship was palpable in every detail of their latest masterpiece. This special occasion not only marked a significant milestone in the company's storied history but also offered a glimpse into the future of luxury boating.

Q

Brandon, Resident Magazine: It's an honor to sit down with you aboard the "Anniversary" edition of the Launch 27, especially as we celebrate Valentine's Day and Chris-Craft's remarkable 150th anniversary here at the Miami Boat Show. Could you share the inspiration behind this special edition?

A

Stephen Heese, President of Chris-Craft: Absolutely, it's a pleasure to be here. The Anniversary edition embodies our heritage, featuring unique accents such as aquamarine trimming and a commemorative 150th-anniversary logo on the steering wheel. It's a nod to our legacy of craftsmanship and design, ensuring each boat we release this year carries a piece of our history.

Chris-Craft 150th anniversary steering wheel. Every model purchased in 2024 comes with a commemorative steering wheel.
Chris-Craft 150th anniversary steering wheel. Every model purchased in 2024 comes with a commemorative steering wheel. Chris Garrison
Q

Brandon: As the leader since 2001, how have you managed the evolving boating industry while maintaining Chris-Craft's well-known brand identity?

A

Stephen: It's been an exhilarating journey. The essence of Chris-Craft is about embracing challenges as opportunities. While we revel in the design process, ensuring each boat exceeds our standards of craftsmanship and style within a precise timeline is always a thrilling challenge. Our dedication to in-house and collaborative design, particularly with our Rome-based studio, is a testament to our commitment to excellence.

Q

Brandon: Speaking of design, how does Chris-Craft's design philosophy stand out in the global market?

A

Stephen: Our design ethos is deeply rooted in a blend of timeless elegance and innovative craftsmanship. With a design studio in Rome and engineering in Sarasota, we merge Italian creativity with American ingenuity, ensuring each Chris-Craft boat is a masterpiece of form and function.

Boat builders, the heart of the brand, at the Chris-Craft Algonac plant in the 1920s
Boat builders, the heart of the brand, at the Chris-Craft Algonac plant in the 1920sCourtesy of Chris-Craft
Q

Brandon: Who is usually fascinated by the appeal of a Chris-Craft boat?

A

Stephen: Our clientele is diverse yet unified by a common appreciation for the finer things in life. They are individuals with access to water—be it saltwater or freshwater—who seek unparalleled experiences on the water. From business owners to professionals, our customers are discerning individuals who value quality, design, and legacy.

Q

Brandon: Given its extensive history, what is Chris-Craft's vision for the future within the boating sector?

A

Stephen: Looking ahead, we remain committed to innovation while staying true to our core values. We're not just building boats; we're crafting experiences and memories. Our focus is on pioneering new technologies and designs that resonate with both our loyal customers and the next generation of boating enthusiasts.

Q

Brandon: Considering Chris-Craft's 150-year history, how would you summarize the brand in a brief statement?

A

Stephen: Quality, craftsmanship, and design. These are the pillars that have upheld Chris-Craft's legacy and will continue to guide us into the future.

Chris-Craft 150th anniversary burgee with aquamarine trim. Every model purchased in 2024 comes with a commemorative flag.
Chris-Craft 150th anniversary burgee with aquamarine trim. Every model purchased in 2024 comes with a commemorative flag.Chris Garrison
Q

Brandon: What message would you like to convey to our loyal readers, a majority of whom are interested in the luxury lifestyle and may be considering boating?

A

Stephen: I encourage everyone to explore the joy of boating. Whether it's for leisure, sport, or simply enjoying time on the water, Chris-Craft offers an unparalleled boating experience. We invite you to be part of our storied tradition and to create your own lasting memories on the water.

Q

Brandon: Stephen, thank you for sharing these insights. We look forward to seeing Chris-Craft's continued innovation and craftsmanship on the water.

A

Stephen Heese: Brandon, it's been a pleasure discussing Chris-Craft's journey and our vision for the future. Here's to creating more unforgettable moments on the water together

About Stephen Heese, President, Chris-Craft: Stephen Heese is President of Chris-Craft, a role he has held since joining the company in 2001. As President, Heese is responsible for overseeing strategy,operations,innovation, product development and business development for the 150-year organization. Prior to Chris-Craft, Steve spent twelve years at EricoInternational Corporation in a variety of roles, including Managing Director of Europe, Asia and Australia regions, President of Erico Products Australia Ltd, and Vice-President of Sales 81 Marketing for Erico Fastening Systems. Heese also spent three years at Price Waterhouse in Tampa as a member of the management consulting group. Originally from Tampa, Heese has a bachelor's degree in accounting from Tulane University and a master's degree in business administration from Harvard University's Graduate School of Business. He is a Certified Public Accountant and an active member of the AICPA and FICPA.
About Chris-Craft: Chris-Craft, America's boatbuilder Since 1874, leads the industry in craftsmanship and quality which represents enduring devotion to its proud past. Headquartered in Sarasota, Florida, Chris-Craftbuilds the following sterndrive and outboard power boat models forits 2024 Collection: Launch, Launch GT, Calypso, and Catalina, which range in length from 24 to 35 feet. Chris-Craft is a wholly owned subsidiary of Winnebago Industries (NYSE: WGO), a 65-year-old manufacturer of outdoor lifestyle products.For more information, visit chriscraft.com.
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