Riverdale Mills Corporation will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2020. Earlier this year Beth Casoni sat down with Riverdale CEO Jim Knott, Jr. to discuss the challenges that lie ahead, the lessons he has learned, and the importance of his father’s legacy.

MLA: You became CEO in 2015. What’s the toughest part of being in charge?
JK: Meshing all the moving pieces! Making sure to continually and simultaneously invest in our employees, equipment, R&D, service and distribution, as well as marketing and sales. And to grow geographically while maintaining close relationships with our most valued and loyal customers: the local MA fishermen and women.

MLA: What business leader do you most admire?
JK: My father, Jim Sr. I was lucky to work with him for over 30 years. It wasn’t always easy, but he was entrepreneurial, dedicated and innovative. He believed in Riverdale Mills and never shied away from protecting his company and the lobster industry.

MLA: What changes do you anticipate moving forward?
JK: Riverdale Mills now manufactures 3,500 different wire mesh products that have tremendous international appeal, so we have secured several partnerships and business opportunities in new markets across the globe. We will continue to grow internationally while staying grounded on the East Coast and connected to local fishermen and women who form some of the oldest and greatest fishing villages in the world.

Aquamesh® is now the industry standard for lobster traps, crab and crawfish pots and for building the oyster cages used for off-bottom oyster farming. From the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian Maritimes, oyster farming is a rapidly growing and dynamic sector of the fishing industry. Oysters are a much sought-after culinary delight, and oyster farming is a great alternative for those looking to fish closer to shore.

MLA: What is the most important part of business these days?
JK: We exist, have always existed, to help lobstermen lobster better. We are the most trusted manufacturer, we are the industry innovator, and we have superior technology, so we need to stay abreast and ahead of business developments, industry trends, and, most importantly, our customer’s needs.

MLA: What’s your proudest accomplishment?
JK: Riverdale Mills has transitioned from a start-up, with sales primarily limited to New England, to an internationally recognized leader in the wire industry. Riverdale now manufactures over 3,500 sizes of welded wire mesh for the construction, security, marine, and farming industries. Forty percent of our products are exported to global customers.
Our family business has a unique history, with an intense focus on innovation and long-term success, a deep-rooted dedication to our employees, and an unwavering determination to deliver superior products, solutions and service to every customer. I am extremely proud and excited to be leading Riverdale Mills into the future.

MLA: How much does your company’s history of reinventing the lobster trap, and inventing the mesh to make those traps, shape who you are today?
JK: We are who we are today because of the support of lobstermen and women up and down the East Coast – but particularly the support received from our loyal customers in Massachusetts. The lobster fishing industry put us on the map, and we are deeply grateful they embraced our Aquamesh® product. No matter where we go, or what products we sell, it always comes back to the welded wire mesh lobster trap. The lobstermen expect nothing but the best from Riverdale Mills. Knowing that keeps us focused on manufacturing great products and delivering even greater customer service.