Robert S. MacIntosh has 40 years experience in the real estate management and retail industries, and has been with Pier 39 since 1984, becoming its president and chief executive in 2000. He is a board member of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau and is involved in St. Francis Foundation, SPUR, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the California Travel Industry Association.
Who had the biggest influence on you in your life?
Lt. Osmer. I was an enlisted man in the Navy, and when my tour of duty was ending, Lt. Osmer tried to convince me to stay in the Navy. When I informed him that I was going to go to college, he insinuated that college wasn’t right for me. Little did he know that his comments have been the major motivating factor for success in my life.
Where do you find inspiration?
Over time I have become interested in history and have read books about Gen. [Dwight D.] Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, Gen. [George S.] Patton and Ronald Reagan. These men were great leaders and their leadership should be an inspiration to all of us.
To whom do you turn in tough times?
Depending on the situation, I may turn to my wife for good counseling, and at other times I turn to my Executive Staff. There are numerous challenges running Pier 39, and I know I can rely on my executive staff with their collective knowledge and experience.
What one book or piece of writing has had a large impact on you?
The last book I read was “The Bridge at Andau” written by James A. Michener. The book is an accumulation of true stories that occurred during the time of the Hungarian revolution in November 1956. I read the book while I was touring Budapest, Hungary, in May of this year and I actually lived the book. Hungary has only been free of Communism for 20 years. Reading this book was a reminder to me of how wonderful America is and how fortunate I was to be brought up in a free country.
How and when did Pier 39 become a tourist attraction?
Pier 39 became a local and tourist attraction from the day it opened in October 1978. We have always had great views, great people watching and an environment that allows people to escape from everyday life. Over time we have changed the mix of our retail shops, restaurants and entertainment so that more locals have realized we are very family-oriented and a fun place to visit.
You’ve been working at Pier 39 for 25 years. What originally drew you there?
I grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and my playground was the Atlantic Ocean, so I fell in love with being on the water. My Navy experience made my love of the water grow stronger, so when I had the opportunity to work at Pier 39 and work on the beautiful waterfront of San Francisco, the decision was easy.
What’s your favorite Pier 39 attraction?
We have 15 different attractions at Pier 39. It’s hard to pick one, however, this time of the year I really enjoy the RocketBoat ride. Going 44 miles per hour on San Francisco Bay is a real thrill!
Why do you think the wharf is such a major tourist attraction?
People like to be on or close to the water. There is a lot of activity on the Bay — from sailboats to large container ships to everything in between. And of course, the big draw is the delicious fresh seafood.