BOSTON — The Home Builders Association of Massachusetts (HBAM) at its annual award night, held at Symphony Hall on June 16, honored James Derderian Sr. as Legend of the Industry. Every year, outstanding individuals who have exhibited professionalism and community service toward the growth, health and public perception of the building industry, are honored as legends of the industry. Derderian, of Merrimack Valley Wood Products, Inc., has been a leader of the Northeast builders community. He was born in historic Armenia, and emigrated with his family to the United States in 1923. The family settled in Everett, Mass., later moving to Haverhill.
Derderian’s ambition to be an aviation mechanic led to his enrollment in the New England Aircraft School at Logan Airport. Graduating at the top of his class, he took the federal exams and became a licensed airplane and engine mechanic. The school had a government contract to teach army mechanics, and he was asked to be an instructor.
After two and a half years, he opened his own seaplane base with four planes in Methuen, on the Merrimack River, and taught ex-GI’s to fly under the GI bill.
When that program ended, he swapped a speedboat for woodworking machinery and a new chapter in his life began. Utilizing the space he had in an airplane hanger, he began making window moldings. At that time the sides were produced individually; but Jim created a completely assembled window unit, which was greeted enthusiastically by the building industry. This was the start of his door and window business, Merrimack Valley Wood Products, Inc.
In 1970, he bought competitor Standard Sash and Door of Derry, NH. A further acquisition added an additional 100,000 square feet to his New Hampshire properties.
His curiosity and enthusiasm for new ideas have led him to pursue a variety of interests. He has built and sold over 35 homes, and has purchased and developed commercial, medical and condominium properties, as well as a lending institution. He also patented a double election booth, which is sold all over the country.
Derderian is a community leader and benefactor to his church, St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church, in Haverhill, whose hall is named after his parents. For his generosity, he has been awarded the St. Gregory the Illuminator Medal and Encyclical by the Catholicos of All Armenians.