Chris Craft is ready for its new owner, RV maker Winnebago, to accelerate its growth

Seven months after the acquisition from the private-equity firm that rescued it, the boatmaker is poised to leave rivals in its wake

Sarasota’s Chris-Craft Corp. and its owner, Winnebago Industries Inc., have big plans.

The blueprint for increasing the number of boat models Chris-Craft offers, the size of its plant and its workforce are about the same as they were before the recreational vehicle manufacturer bought the boatmaker in June. In fact, those plans were part of the reason it was an attractive acquisition.

But the capital that the publicly traded Winnebago, with a market capitalization of nearly $1 billion, can supply to fuel Chris-Craft’s progress can make those plans happen much faster.

“Over time, we’ll invest multiple eight figures in this business,” Winnebago president and CEO Michael Happe (pronounced Happy) said during a recent visit to Chris-Craft’s plant near Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

“It’s pretty much our same growth plan we had before the acquisition, but now we can execute it more quickly,” Chris-Craft president and CEO Stephen Heese said.