Chris Smith’s son, Jay Smith, took over the company in 1927, turning it into a world-leading producer of mahogany boats. Harsen Smith, Chris Smith’s grandson, took over the company in 1958.
The elegant hull shapes and gleaming mahogany of Chris-Craft boats made them pop culture fixtures. Frank Sinatra, Katharine Hepburn and Elvis Presley were all customers, and Chris-Craft boats appeared in the second Godfather film, On Golden Pond and many other movies.
Chris-Craft sells seven different boat styles and produces 18 different types of boats.
The ’90s indie rock band Pavement dedicated a charming B-side (“Kris Kraft”) to the brand: “I miss my trusty Chris-Craft/That itsy-bitsy skiff/With topsiders and chinos/Freshly pressed and stiff.”
During World War II, Chris-Craft built patrol boats and rescue vessels for the Navy and Army. By war’s end, the company had manufactured more than 10,000 military landing craft, including some that were used on D-Day.
In 1971, Chris-Craft stopped manufacturing all-wood boats and turned to fiberglass construction, but wooden accents are still used today.
Stellican also owns the American motorcycle manufacturer Indian, as well as an Italian yacht builder, the professional soccer club in Vicenza, Italy, and many other businesses.