Meet John Darien
Not even old enough to be on the payroll, John Darien began working as a mason tender for a mason contractor who was on his paper route. Just 14 years old, he worked on weekends and during the summer months. His 50-cent an hour wage was listed under “materials” in the company’s books. When John was 15, he and his brother were hired to work weekends and summers on the crew of the building contractor they were doing masonry work for. John’s employer saw promise in his youngest crew member. Even though he was only 16 and had not yet graduated from high school, John was moved into the office to design 2,000-4,000 square foot lakefront homes. His employer generously offered to send him to college to study architecture. He even guaranteed him a job when he graduated, but John was already getting bored with being cooped up in an office. John’s comment was, “I wanted to be a carpenter and work on the job.” After graduating from high school, John went to work for other builders and concentrated on learning how to be the best carpenter he could be. By the time he was 21, after working for several area builders, John had fine-tuned his carpentry skills and felt he was ready to venture out on his own (a decision he has never regretted). In 1967, he became one of the YOUNGEST licensed builders in the state.
John became one of the most respected builder/developers to ever work in the Muskegon area. In 1996, John was awarded the Muskegon Economic Development Award.
In 2000, John received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which was awarded by the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce. John’s hard work helped improve Muskegon and also provided employment for many contractors and suppliers in the area.
With many years of building and developing in Muskegon behind him, John moved to Benzie County to semi-retire in 2003 (it lasted 30 days). He found his business had followed him north.
To date, John Darien has built more than 1,200 homes, condos, apartments, and light industrial buildings, ranging from “starter” homes to 7,000 square-foot custom homes. He has used his vast design expertise in many of them.
Gray Hair Helps – The fact that John has been in business for 44 years is an asset to his clients. He knows how to build, how to serve his clients best, and he knows the importance of working with a good team. The key to making a construction project flow is to surround yourself with good people. Fortunately, John has a great staff and great subcontractors surrounding him.
The Man in the Mirror – When John Darien says he has to like what he sees when he looks in the mirror, the statement has absolutely nothing to do with his rugged, outdoorsman’s appearance and everything to do with the structures he builds. “If I had one guiding philosophy, it would be that I have to like what I see when I look in the mirror, and in order to do that I have to do my best at my work.”
Benzie County Chamber of Commerce – Member
Beulah Boosters, Current Vice President, past President