John Anderson – taking the reins at Riviera

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

John Anderson grew up on Long Island in New York and began boating there on the family’s flybridge cruiser. He first wrested the helm from his father at age 10.

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

John learned his business skills with Ryder Truck Rental, a $7 billion leasing company that operated throughout North America.

“In the rental business, if your client doesn’t like you or the vehicle, they can simply return the keys and find a similar vehicle somewhere else. The difference is not the truck; it’s the person behind the counter or on the phone.”

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.”

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

In 1992 John joined Bombardier as Director of Sales. Then they offered him and three other executives the opportunity to build an entire division of their business, building Seadoo jet boats.

“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 three years.”

One day in 1997 John got a phone call with an offer he could not turn down – to turn around an ailing Four Winns business based in the mid-western US State of Michigan.

“We built up the business and quickly became profitable,” says John. “Then in 2000 our owners, a conglomerate called OMC, went into liquidation. 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 corporate parent 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 who later 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 were vacationing in Florida and had dinner with Mike and his wife. He suggested I talk with Wes Moxey at Riviera about opportunities there.

“I had a checklist of the company I wanted to work for,” says John.

“First, I wanted to work for a company I could respect. Tick one for Riviera.

“Next I needed to love the style and size of boat the company produces. I love big boats and Riviera builds them very well. Tick two

“I had to have a passion for the product. Tick three for Riviera.

“Finally, I had to see an opportunity to work with the team to grow the business, to be an integral part of that growth. 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: Riviera's new CEO John Anderson

Riviera's new CEO John Anderson