Storied Boatbuilder Chris-Craft Bought by Winnebago

Chris-Craft will forever be known for its beautiful wooden-hulled powerboats of the 1920s through 1950s. And now, it will be known for its ties to the RV maker Winnebago.

Winnebago Industries announced this week that it bought the iconic powerboat builder from Stellican Ltd., which has owned Chris-Craft since 2001. 

The Chris-Craft brand dates back to 1874, when its founder, Christopher Columbus Smith, built his first boat at just 13 years old. It is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida. Today, it makes six different powerboat models ranging from 21 to 38 feet.

 Chris-Craft Capri,  from 1955 and 2018
Chris-Craft Capri,  from 1955 and 2018

Chris-Craft is the first marine venture for Winnebago, which mostly makes motor homes and trailers. The company believes the time is right for investing in a boat manufacturer, which has “significant runway for growth, with a large and increasing population of current and new boaters who enjoy extraordinary experiences on the water,” according to Winnebago  Industries President and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Happe.

Happe also notes the many similarities between the RV and boating lifestyles, and the overlap of owners.

There’s no word on how much money changed hands in the deal.

-Meg Walburn Viviano