Nov 23, 2012

The Production Management Baton Changes Hands at Riviera

As a role model and mentor to many of Riviera's current leaders, long serving shipwright and head of manufacturing Chris Gilfoyle has passed the baton today on to his prodigy Scott Cumming.

After 47 years of boat building and 18 solid years with Riviera, Chris is easing his way into retirement, but his legacy will continue, as Riviera's young leaders move forward and take up senior management roles.

Born in New Zealand's city of sails, Auckland, Chris left school at the age of 15 to pursue a boat building apprenticeship. He also had a passion for racing offshore power boats. In 1979, he moved toAustralia where he worked for various boat builders before taking up a position at Riviera in 1994 building the Excalibur range for Wellcraft in the USA.

This is where Chris first met Scott Cumming, a young boat builder who had just completed his apprenticeship. As a qualified tradesman, Scott was fortunate to be assigned to the Excalibur project where he worked under Chris's guidance and leadership.

Working with Chris back in the Wellcraft days was an invaluable experience. He was a great mentor and always kept an even keel. I admire his good judgement in a practical boat building sense and he is exceptionally good at troubleshooting, Scott said.

His many years of experience in manufacturing and boat racing have been helpful and the knowledge that he has passed on to myself and many of my colleagues will continue to guide us throughout our careers.

Handing the baton over to Scott will be bittersweet for Chris, who feels sad to be leaving but is also looking forward to spending more time with his wife of 40 years, Pam, and his grandchildren in Bundaberg.

I will be coming into Riviera several days a month as a consultant, so that will help me ease into retirement, and this arrangement will allow me to offer my support and knowledge to the production staff, Chris said.

I believe I am going to leave behind a well oiled team and an extremely well established company, and I hope that my team will remember the lessons I have taught them and think to themselves, what would Chris have done in this situation, when faced with a new challenge.

Chris said one of the major highlights of his entire career was between 2005 and 2006 when Riviera built a record 420 boats with 1100 staff on-site at Coomera.

That really was the pinnacle of my career, to be leading a great team of boat builders through one of the busiest times in Riviera's history. It was also very rewarding to see the steady growth of the company and to be a part of Riviera's success pre and post the GFC.

Throughout my career, I have learnt that if you work hard and you do the right thing, the rewards are there. I have always encouraged all of my young boat builders to aspire to be the best that they can be, to become leaders and to have respect for themselves and those around them. Scott is a shining example of this and I am very proud to have him step up into my role.

Scott began his four-year apprenticeship with Riviera in 1990 and upon graduating worked in various roles within the organisation including, boat building, lamination, stainless steel, engineering, electrical, and new product development.

In 1993, he was awarded Queensland apprentice of the year and after the Excalibur project, he went on to pursue his interest in the business side of the company, obtaining a Diploma of business in 1998.

In 1999, Scott began his Masters in Business Administration. He graduated in 2001 and was contracted to set up a production facility for a new company selling wakeboard products, Tige Boats Australia. During this time, he remained in his strategic NPD role at Riviera and moved from the costing and finance side into a planning role where he held that position until 2009 when he was offered a position with Grand Banks in Malaysia.

At the age of 35, Scott relocated to Malaysia where he oversaw the development and design of four new Grand Banks models. After three-and-a-half years in this role, Scott wanted to return to Australia, so the offer to return to Riviera as commercial manager in July of this year was one that he could not turn down.

It feels great to be back in Australia and in particular, back at Riviera where I began my career. The past five months have been very rewarding and challenging for me. I have been working on new product development and we have a lot of exciting and innovative models due for release next year, Scott said.

I have also had a strong focus on creating a winning team and driving efficient production. I look forward to the challenges my new position will offer and I feel honoured to be following in my mentor's footsteps.

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