PRESIDENT, CHRIS-CRAFT, SARASOTA
Heese is a partner in Stellican, the British investment firm that bought Chris-Craft from Outboard Marine, which went bankrupt in 1988. Heese had met Stephen Julius, the founder and managing director of Stellican, while both were attending Harvard Business School.
Heese has overseen the resurrection of the iconic boatmaker and re-established it as a premium brand, using top-quality fittings and re-creating distinctive designs that harkened to the brand’s heritage. In 2019, Winnebago Industries bought Chris-Craft, with Heese staying on as president.
With Winnebago’s backing, Heese plans to expand the firm’s manufacturing plant by some 80,000 square feet, add newer models of smaller boats and increase the number of employees from 340 to nearly 600.
Heese, a Tampa native who has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Tulane and an MBA from Harvard, is a CPA. He worked for Erico International and Price Waterhouse’s management consulting group. Stellican has acquired other iconic brands that fell on hard times, including Indian Motorcycle and a luxury boat builder, Riva — both of which it has since sold after rehabilitating.