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"Dick" Genth

The story of the Stingers begins with Chris-Craft, and ends with Richard “Dick” Genth.

Chris-Craft was founded in the early 1920s by Christopher Columbus Smith and his brother Hank Smith. The two brothers used their skills as hunters and fishermen to build powered wooden boats. The boats were of the highest quality, but the genius of the Smith brothers was applying automobile production techniques to increase production of boats and lower costs. By lowering costs, Chris-Craft helped to open the personal boating industry to the middle class. This paid off for Chris-Craft handsomely – Chris-Craft was able to survive the great depression and WWII when others failed. The heyday in terms of boats built and sales numbers was during the 1950s – Chris-Craft was the largest personal boat manufacturer and was known as the General Motors of the boating industry. By the late 1950s, the personal boating industry was changing, and so was Chris-Craft. A new manufacturing process using fiberglass was becoming popular, and Chris-Craft's first attempts at using it were disappointments. In addition, the surviving Smith family members were looking to sell out of the business. By 1960, the ChrisCraft company was sold to National Automotive Fibers Incorporated and renamed Chris-Craft Industries. Chris-Craft did not remain as a part of National Automotive Fibers Inc long. In 1968, Baldwin-Montrose Chemical Co, Inc took a controlling interest in Chris-Craft. Herbert J Seigel was made president and CEO of Chris-Craft. From the 1960s to the 1980s, ChrisCraft's boating division lost market share to its competitors. By the late 1970s, Herbert J Seigel was looking for someone to turn around the boating division. He turned to Richard “Dick” Genth. Dick Genth was a well known personality in the boating industry. In the early 1960s, Dick worked for Thunderbird/Formula and took up offshore racing where he raced with, and against, racing legends such as Don Aranow, Dick Bertram, Odell Lewis and Sam Griffith. After Thunderbird/Forumula, Dick became president of Wellcraft. It was while he was president of Wellcraft that Herbert Siegel offered him the presidency of Chris-Craft. Dick accepted the offer and became president of Chris-Craft in 1978. In order to turn Chris-Craft around, Dick began shutting down facilities, stopped Chris-Craft's production of engines, and split Chris-Craft into two separate corporations – the Chris-Craft Corporation and ChrisCraft Sportboats, Inc. By 1979, Chris-Craft was once again showing a profit. In addition to reorganizing ChrisCraft, Dick introduced new models including the Scorpions. The Scorpions were a line of sports boats that included a 26' version that would eventually become the basis for the Stinger 260. Dick also negotiated a deal with Bill Farmer of Excalibur boats to use their moulds for a 31' deep-v offshore racing hull. The boats based on these hulls would be called Excalibur by Chris-Craft. Eventually, these too became the basis for additional Stinger models. With an increasing model line, the new Chris-Craft Sportboats needed a larger production facility. Dick negotiated an impressive deal with Bradenton, FL to convert an existing WWW.CHRISCRAFTSTINGERS.COM Newsletter, February, 2013 facility to suit his needs. The production of the Scorpions and other models was moved into this new facility. By 1980-1981, Herbert Siegel was looking to sell off Chris-Craft. Being the business man he was, Dick was able to round up some investors, including George Dale Murray, and in December of 1981, they purchased a 95% stake in Chris-Craft for $5M. Dick told Forbes magazine about the purchase of Chris-Craft: “We stole it.” Chris-Craft continued to grow and Dick looked to expand the model line. He added a new model line – the Stinger. These boats were to be high-powered deep-v offshore race boats. The Stingers were ChrisCraft's top of the line sport boats. To market the new sport boats, Dick went back to his racing roots and started a factory racing team. While Chris-Craft focused on racing mainly the Chris Cats, high-powered offshore catamarans, Stingers were raced as well. Notably, a Stinger 312 won Powerboat Magazine's Golden Gate to Spruce Goose Chase in 1984. Chris-Craft would use their newfound racing experience in the building of their boats. A new “Competition” version of the 312 and 390 Stingers was introduced which included state of the art coring materials, custom resins, and an intricate vacuum bagging lamination process, as well as a choice of higher performance engines. Chris-Craft was generating good sales numbers in the early 1980s, but by the end of 1984 Dick would leave Chris-Craft. Dick had a falling out with George Dale Murray – according to Murray the falling out was caused by a disagreement centered around the “direction the company should take”. Murray bought out Dick's share of ChrisCraft and Dick moved on from ChrisCraft. After Dick left Chris-Craft, new models of Stingers were introduced, and some of the existing models were redesigned. However, the new models were either much smaller boats such as the 202s and 222s, or the new European styled 375s, 385s, and 415s. And while the larger boats were capable offshore boats, with their size, weight and power they were more cruisers than racers. Chris-Craft continued on after Dick under the leadership of Murray. But by 1987 cash was needed. Murray sold a 44% share of Chris-Craft to a wealthy Saudi businessman Ghaith Rashad Pharaon. In late 1988 Pharaon ousted Murray and installed new management. In December 1988, Chris-Craft filed for bankruptcy. OMC bought what was left of Chris-Craft at an auction for $58M. After the bankruptcy of Chris-Craft, but before it was sold to OMC, a local paper reported a rumored siting of Dick Genth at the Bradenton, FL plant. Question is, what was he doing there? Was he possibly thinking about buying what was left of Chris-Craft and having another go at it? No one would ever know. After the sale of Chris-Craft to OMC, the company continued on but no longer made the deep-v offshore racing boats. The last of the Stingers were sold in 1989 by OMC. Eventually, OMC would go bankrupt as well. After leaving Chris-Craft, Dick went on to work for Donzi, Century Boat Co, Borward Yatchs, and Westship World Yatchs amongst others. He was successful and an asset at each. Dick passed away in 2002 at the age of 77. Who knows what might have been if Dick Genth had stayed on with Chris-Craft. In my opinion, Dick was the motivation behind the Stingers – he brought his early offshore racing experiences to Chris-Craft, built the Stingers and Chris Cats and started racing. When he left, Chris-Craft got out of racing. I believe he had big dreams for the company – and I believe he could have attained those dreams. But that was not to be.