#takethewheel with Founder Jon Ruti
Today, we chat with Mr. Jon Ruti, ex-prosecutor and founder fo Rivay. Sit back, relax and let Jon dish on why he founded Rivay, Land Rovers, watches and three cherry manhattans.
Why don’t you give us a little intro and tell us about the day job…
Jon Ruti (JR): I’m Jon Ruti, the founder of Rivay. If you’re reading this you probably know a bit about Rivay, but here’s some background. I used to be a prosecutor here in NYC for seven years. I worked everything from DWI to homicide cases. As a prosecutor, you’re always wearing a uniform: white button down shirt; classic stripe tie; charcoal or navy suit; brown or black cap toe shoes. Day in and day out, weekends, holidays and night shifts, it’s the uniform. The idea is to look clean & professional, to wear something that won't distract a jury. It was a stressful job, so I began pursuing a number of weekend passions to take my mind off work. Vintage cars, climbing, cycling, surfing, fly fishing, watches - hobbies that allowed me to escape, both literally and figuratively.
I noticed that when the time came to pursue these passions, I couldn’t find anything to wear. I was stuck in this weird sartorial middle ground. Friends would pick me up for a weekend of climbing or skiing and I’d be in a suit. Sure, I could change into the technical clothes, but what about sitting in the car for a 5 hour drive upstate? I didn't want to wear a suit, but I wasn't ready to throw on my soft shell jacket either. I needed something to bridge the gap between the suit and the technical.
That’s when Rivay was born. A brand that appreciated the fabric and construction of a suit and applied it to a wearable and effortless off-duty style. 3 years on and we’ve developed a cult following among gentlemen looking to transition from their demanding careers to their weekend passions.
Word on the street is that you’re a car guy, how about a rundown of your current stable?
JR: Living in the city, the herd has to stay thin. I just sold my 1994 NAS Defender 90 but was fortunate enough to source a 1990 Land Rover Perentie 110 from the Australian Defense Force. The Perentie is the nickname for 110's produced by JRA (Jaguar Rover Australia) for the Australian Army. Assembled in New South Wales from 1987 to 1992, the Perentie had some major differences from their British brethren. Each came fitted with fully galvanized and reinforced chassis, an Izuzu 4BD1 diesel engine and a host of other smaller nuances. The result is a defender that's just a little better thought out. The Aussies like to one-up the Brits and it shows in this truck.
Do you have a favorite? Why is it the favorite?
JR: I love the Perentie. I used to be all about the NAS defender but after owning an NAS 90 for a long time, you become intimately familiar with their shortcomings. A V8 that runs hot, corrosive chassis, etc. I love the cargo space in the 110 – just that bit of extra space makes a massive difference. The Perentie is slow, but the engine is smooth and unremarkable – which I love. It almost makes crawling around NYC traffic bearable. Almost.
Is there anything you dislike about driving/riding it (the favorite)?
JR: The drafts. No matter how many blankets or shirts I stuff around the doors, there’s always a draft that manages to find any exposed skin.
Have any other toys without motors we should know about?
JR: Not at the moment, but see below…
Car you most regret selling?
JR: I had a 2004 Land Rover Discovery II and just loved it. It was the perfect mix of rugged and refined. Capable when you needed it and comfortable as a daily driver.
Any toys on the wish list?
JR: I am on this intense search for a 1980’s BMW R80 G/S Paris Dakar bike. I love the challenge of searching for a unicorn, and this is definitely one of those toys that will take a while to find. More rovers of course – 1995 Range Rover Classic, 2001 Land Rover Discovery II “Kalahari” Edition, a Defender 110 Fire Truck, another Perentie maybe. The addiction is strong. Car wise, it’s the Jaguar e-type Series 1 roadster that gets me.
You have one hour to escape a normal day, what do you do?
JR: Walk my English bull dog, Bruce. Even a walk around the block can take an hour with him.
Now you’ve got 2 weeks…
JR: Africa. The landscape & wildlife is the ultimate. Vintage Land Rovers don’t hurt either
Favorite trip not yet taken?
JR: The girlfriend and I want to go to the east African plains to see the great migration.
The one hotel that you judge all others by and why…
JR: Actually, two really stand out for me. International-wise, El Fenn in Marrakech. When you walk into the riad for the first time, you are instantly transported to a different place and time. It’s really special to get that feeling. Domestic-wise, Hotel Saint Cecilia blew me away. An oasis in Austin, TX.