Introducing John Anderson, Riviera’s new CEO

The new man at the Riviera helm may not have an Australian accent, but he is immersed in leisure boating.

John Anderson grew up on Long Island in New York, USA, and began boating there on the family’s flybridge cruiser. He first took the helm from his father at age ten.

“It was a very early fiberglass boat,” John recalls.

John learned his early business skills with Ryder Truck Rental, a $7 billion leasing company that operated throughout North America. And it was through Ryder’s truck leasing division that he made the move to the boating industry.

“In the US, most boats are moved around by road and we leased trucks to Sea Ray,” he says. “I was a lot more excited about boating than trucking so I made the move. But I learned a great deal about a focus on the customer at Ryder. When you rent or lease vehicles, it is all about keeping the customer happy.”

John rose through the ranks at Sea Ray to become Vice President of Sales.

“I learned the basics of good business from the owner at the time, C. N. Ray. That man had more charisma than anyone has a right to!

“He said there were just four things you had to work on to be successful:
– Take care of your people
– Make sure your dealers make more money selling your boats than they could selling any other brand
– Make a good boat
– Take care of your customers”

In 1992 Bombardier offered John the opportunity to build an entire division of their business, building Seadoo jet boats.

“I was given a small team to run an independent division,” says John. “We took the first jet ski from concept to a complete boat in just four months to show it at the Miami Boat Show. Then we built the business from that to a $100 million business in four years.”

After a brief time with Shamrock Marine, which included rebuilding the Rampage brand, John got an offer he could not turn down – to turn around an ailing Four Winns business based in the northern State of Michigan.

“At the time – 1997 - the company was owned by a conglomerate called OMC. We built up the business and quickly became profitable. Then in 2000 OMC went into liquidation and took all the divisions with it, including ours. I had to mothball the business – right at the time of the Miami Boat Show. It’s interesting to go to a Boat Show with new models and a business in liquidation – that’s tough!”

Three months later Genmar bought Four Winns and gave John the task of rebuilding again.

“My boss at Genmar was Mike Scruggs. We got on very well and built that business to the point where we were making more than 7,000 boats a year. But Mike left and soon took a job as President of Riviera Yachts of the Americas.

“By 2007 I felt it was time to move on from Four Winns. My wife Terri and I had a chat with Mike and his wife. He suggested I talk with Wes Moxey at Riviera about opportunities there. I came out to Australia for a discussion in January 2007 and by March had moved out here as Director of Operations.

“My plan was always to work at Riviera until I was ready to retire. I wasn’t planning on anything more than the challenge of Operations at Riviera. But Wes beat me to retirement!

“This is a great company and the challenge is to work with the team to keep it great and make it even better. With exciting new models in the pipeline, it is a great time to take the mantle of such a world-renowned brand.”

Click to enlarge image: