When the opportunity to buy the storied boat manufacturer Chris-Craft came along in 2001, Stephen Heese pledged roughly 80% of his net worth to buy the assets of the bankrupt company with the help of his friend and business partner, Stephen Julius.

The partners set about to rebuild the value of the iconic company and last month, 17 years after they bought the company, Hesse and Julius announced the acquisition of Chris-Craft by R.V. maker Winnebago for an undisclosed windfall.

This was their second success at buying an iconic American brand that had lost its way. In 2004, Heese and Julius acquired the assets of Indian Motorcycle, resuscitated the brand, and flipped it to Polaris Industries for a tidy profit in 2011.


The criteria Heese and Julius use to acquire companies

How to buy a business for less than its book value

How to leverage trustees and bankruptcy attorneys to learn about potential distressed acquisitions before the market does

The surprising impact Chris-Craft’s dealers had on the value of the business

The one thing Hesse recommends any seller vets before negotiating with an acquirer

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