How Indian Motorcycle & Chris-Craft Were Built to Sell

July 27, 2018 |  

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Stephen Heese buys fallen iconic brands and brings them back to life. Found out how he turns big personal risk into great rewards.

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.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • 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

One key element of Heese and Julius’ formula for buying distressed companies comes down to buying the assets for less than a third of their book value. Book value assumes your company has no “good will” and the acquirer is simply buying your hard assets. To get paid for your good will, you need to understand how potential buyers will look at your business. Get started for free now by getting your Value Builder Score.

Our guest

Stephen Heese has been the President and CEO of Chris-Craft since it was purchased in 2001. Prior to Chris-Craft, he spent twelve years at Erico international Corporation in a variety of roles, including Managing Director of the 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.

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