Mike on America

Rising Tide Lifts All Boats...


So what do all the best CEO's in the country have in common?

They all love a challenge.


hat's what the two 'Steves' -- Stephen Julius and Steven Heese -- got when they bought the iconic American boatmaker Chris Craft a little over five years ago.

Laboring under declining sales and part of a bankruptcy auction, Chris Craft didn't even own its own 'brand.' The Steves had to buy that from Rupert Murdoch -- there isn't enough space here to figure that one out!

But now it's all under the same rook -- the one at their manufacturing facility in Sarasota Florida. While in general the boating industry has been in a sales decline the last two years, Chris Craft sales have gone up -- 20 percent per year for the last two. It is a 'high network' boat in the 20 to 40 foot range, with plans to expand into the lucrative 60 feet space next year.

The real story here is Julius and Heese -- former college roommates and former, very, very successful business guys in their own right -- together again with a singular goal. To quote Heese, "We want to be the guys who did it." "It" being the resurrection of an American brand, facing the challenge of a "sinking" company and breathing new wind into its sails and sales (had enough metaphors yet?). So far, they're doing it. The goal now: a $100 million company. Last year they did 54 million in sales.

Oh yes, there's another brand under their tutelage as well: Indian Motorcycles. They own that brand name now and will be starting production in a new factory in North Carolina later this year. Another challenge.

Motorboats and motorcycles -- what's next? Trains, planes and automobiles?

You can see more about the "new" Chris Craft on "On The Money," Wednesday night, May 30, at 7 p.m ET.

A rising tide lifts all boats on Wall Street -- and in Sarasota.

Full speed ahead!

Questions?  Comments?  mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com