2016 New Hampshire Retail Lumber Association (NHRLA) Lumber Person of the Year Charlie Desmarais of P.J. Currier Lumber Co. is said to have “sawdust in his veins.” For this condition, Charlie thanks his father, the late Ray Desmarais, who, never allowing his sons to be idle, used to bring them into work with him at the lumber yard from a very young age. Ray began working for company founder Phillip J. Currier in 1952 and soon was “running the place” as General Manager. As there wasn’t much to do in Amherst at that time besides Boy Scouts, it wasn’t long before the Desmarais boys were “hanging out” at P.J. Currier, eventually working there during summers all through high school and college. Additionally, Charlie would also stop by the Currier Dairy Farm before school (now where the Amherst Country Club is located) to milk cows and pick up manure.
Born in Nashua, NH, Charlie graduated from Milford Area Senior High School in 1969 and went on to earn a degree in Microbiology from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in 1973. Regarding Microbiology, Charlie says, “It was interesting, but it took me four years to figure out it wasn’t for me. But college was good for me. I wasn’t a real scholar but I learned a lot of other things, including getting along with people.” Charlie began working for P.J. Currier full-time right out of college. It wasn’t long before Charlie became a member of the International Order of Hoo Hoo’s Granite State Chapter eventually taking a turn serving as its President in 1984. In 1987, Charlie, his brother Tom, along with Phil Currier’s daughters Joan and Holly, bought out their parents’ share of the business.
In the early 90’s, NHRLA was looking for someone from P.J. Currier to serve on the Board of Directors. As Charlie is a self-described “fly under the radar kind of guy,” and is “allergic to committees and meetings,” he convinced Joan to get involved with the Board while he pledged to keep the yard running smooth while she was serving the industry.
Charlie is the oldest of five children born to Ray and Lee Desmarais. He has one sister, Paula, who is a retired teacher, and three brothers: Steve, who is a builder, Tom, who is also at partner at P.J. Currier, and Jerry, who is a teacher. Charlie recalls his mother, Lee, teaching the Desmarais children to always be fair, do your share of the work, and don’t ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.
Charlie met his wife Ann at Red Eye’s Tavern, a local Milford watering-hole. However, Charlie had made an impression on Ann years earlier when her father Ed, who was a teacher, stopped at the Desmarais home to see Ray, who served on the Building Trades Committee for the school. Ann had remained in the car, and when Ed returned to the car, he exclaimed, “The Desmarais boys were doing the dishes!” Charlie and Ann have two sons, Ryan (age 31), and Caleb (age 26). In his few moments of spare time, Charlie enjoys hiking and skiing. Skiing has been part of the Desmarais family for many years. Charlie’s parents took up the hobby as adults, often bringing their kids to Pat’s Peak in Henniker, NH and later Bretton Woods. Charlie skied a little in his youth, took some time off, and then relearned the sport in his 40’s, skiing all over NH and some in the West. The annual Granite State Hoo Hoo Ski Outing was ultimately renamed the Ray Desmarais Memorial Ski Outing.
He also enjoys cooking, in particular, baking pies and cakes. He has made several wedding cakes for friends and relatives. “I’m pretty good if I do say so myself…I still clean up my mess too…most of the time.”
Charlie was instilled with a tenacious work ethic and a commitment to exceptional customer care by his father Ray. “If you worked hard for him, he appreciated it and would return the courtesy.” He counsels, “Always say what you do and do what you say. Make it right for the customer.”
For this dedicated commitment to his customers, company, community, and industry, the NHRLA is proud to recognize Charlie Desmarais as 2016 Lumber Person of the Year.