Vahak Hovnanian

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US Real Estate developer based in New Jersey. Also building a housing division in Yerevan called Vahakni. Provides financial assistance to tourism development in Armenia.

In 2004, Hovbuildbrick, a stone factory employing approximately 70 people was opened in Gyumri. Located on Khanjyan Street, a short walk from Gyumri's Charles Aznavour Statue, the factory is a branch of Hovnanian International, Ltd. Its president is Mr. Vahakn Hovnanian. Hovbuildbrick produces, for export, tiles from Tuf in a variety of colors that can be glued to stone surfaces.

Diaspora Tycoon Slams Armenian Monopolies

Sargis Harutyunyan


A prominent Armenian-American businessman sounded alarm bells on Monday over what he sees as a lack of competition in Armenia, saying that it could spell serious trouble for the country’s economy.

Vahak Hovnanian singled out the monopolization of lucrative imports of goods by “a handful of people” close to the government. He declined to name any of them, though.

“That could have deadly consequences for the economy,” Hovnanian warned in an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service ( “I maybe going to extremes but I want people to take note.”

“The monopolies must be broken up,” he said. “Competition is what drives countries forward. There is no competition here. We can’t move forward in this way.”

A lack of a level playing field for all entrepreneurs has long been regarded as a key hindrance to Armenia’s economic development. Despite repeated government pledges to improve the domestic business environment many lucrative areas business remain controlled by government-linked tycoons commonly called “oligarchs.”

A World Bank report released last November concluded that Armenia has the most monopolized economy in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. It said de facto monopolies control 20 percent of economic activity in the country.

“Nobody can fail to see this. It’s so evident,” said Hovnanian. The problem is scaring away many foreign investors and, in particular, entrepreneurs of Armenian origin, he added.

Hovnanian has been based in Armenia for more than a decade. He is primarily known in the country as the founder and owner of an upscale residential district located on the western outskirts of Yerevan.

The elderly businessman and his three brothers are the founders of the New Jersey-based Hovnanian Enterprises, one of the largest homebuilding companies in the United States.

Is this the right Hovnanian that the article below is about? It must be but I always thought the wifes name is Hasmig. I will leave things like this till they seem clearer.


Hasmig HOVNANIAN HURT IN 18-FOOT FALL By A. Scott Ferguson Staff Writer

Asbury Park Press, NJ Jan 20 2006

Lodged In Elevator Shaft Overnight In Home MIDDLETOWN - The wife of home building entrepreneur Vahak S.

Hovnanian fell 18 feet down an elevator shaft inside the couple's home Wednesday night and remained there for more than 12 hours until township firefighters rescued her Thursday afternoon.

Paris Hovnanian, who just celebrated her 74th birthday on Jan. 1, was flown to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune, where she remained late Thursday in fair condition, a hospital spokesman said.

It appeared that Paris Hovnanian fell down the elevator shaft in her Navesink River Road home about 10 p.m. Wednesday and remained there throughout the night until a caretaker heard her calling for help early Thursday afternoon, Andy Spears, a spokesman for the Middletown Fire Department, said.

Firefighters had to cut through an adjacent bathroom wall to remove Paris Hovnanian, who remained alert and awake through the ordeal, but did suffer some cuts and the effects of dehydration, Spears said.

Later, township police added that she also appeared to have suffered a broken arm and possibly a dislocated hip.

"She was alert and conscious the whole time," Spears said Thursday night. "She was a real trooper. She was in some pain, and she had some lacerations that had to be taken care of."

Paris Hovnanian was in the house by herself when she fell down the shaft. Her husband was traveling outside the country, Spears added.

Vahak Hovnanian was one of the four Armenian brothers who helped form the home building and real estate dynasty that bears their name.

Currently, Vahak Hovnanian owns V.S. Hovnanian Group, a Freehold-based company that he founded in 1969, according to the company's Web site. The company has constructed nearly 5,000 homes throughout the state in the last 25 years.

The couple has also been heavily involved in charity work. Paris Hovnanian is a co-founder of the New York Academy of Art. Vahak Hovnanian helped found the Armenian School of New Jersey. In 1998, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

The Hovnanian family could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

No one answered the telephone at the company's headquarters, and there was no listed telephone number for the house.

Firefighters were called to the couple's brick, two-story home a little after 1 p.m. Thursday. Once there, firefighters found Paris Hovnanian wedged between the elevator carriage and the 6-foot by 6-foot shaft, Spears said.

About 10 p.m. Wednesday, thinking the elevator was on the second floor, Paris Hovnanian walked through the door, fell between 18 and 20 feet, hit the carriage, then rolled off. Her body was then wedged between the shaft, and her one leg was caught under the carriage, Spears added.

When she did not arrive for breakfast, her caretaker began looking for her and then heard her cries for help, Spears said.

Eventually, firefighters cut a hole through the adjacent bathroom, pulled Paris Hovnanian out feet first, placed her on a flat board and removed her through a first-floor window.

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Vahak S. Hovnanian
President and CEO

Vahak Stephan Hovnanian is a successful businessman, real estate developer and philanthropist. A lover of “all things Armenian,” Mr. Hovnanian has dedicated himself to supporting and preserving Armenian culture and heritage. He has now committed himself to revitalizing the independent Republic of Armenia.

Born in Kirkuk, Iraq, Mr. Hovnanian graduated from Baghdad College in 1952 and emigrated to the United States to study at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pa. He graduated in 1956 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics.

Mr. Hovnanian and his brothers formed the Hovnanian Brothers Corporation in 1959, where he served as Vice President. Together, they developed thousands of homes in New Jersey, until going their respective ways ten years later.

In 1969, Mr. Hovnanian organized his own real estate development company, Hovbilt, Inc., which in the ensuing years has developed many successful and award-winning residential and adult communities containing thousands of homes.

With growth came diversification and the formation of several affiliated companies under the name of V.S. Hovnanian Group, Inc. which included Adelphia Water Company, Adelphia Sewer Company, Hovnanian Realty, Clear Title Agency, and Grandview Cable.

In 1985, Vahak and his son, Shant, pioneered a multi-faceted broadband telecommunications company by establishing CellularVision, Inc., which later became SpeedUS, Inc.

Mr. Hovnanian and his wife, Hasmig, have shared a deep pride in, and strong commitment to the preservation of their Armenian heritage. Together, they have played prominent roles in promoting the educational, religious and cultural needs of the Armenian community in the Northeastern United States.

During the mid 1960s, Mr. Hovnanian served as President of the Board of Trustees for St. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church in Ridgefield, NJ, for four years. It was during his tenure as Chairman of the Board that the church completed payment of its debts. He spearheaded the celebration of Armenian holidays on their precise day, rather than on the closest Sunday, making St. Vartanantz one of the first Armenian churches in the United States to do so.

For their efforts, Vahakn and Hasmig were honored in 1969 with a Knighthood in the Order of the Great House of Cilicia, and as a Lady of the Great House of Cilicia, respectively, by His Holiness Khoren I, Catholicos of Cilicia. In further service to the Armenian Church, Mr. Hovnanian served as an Executive Member of the Board of Directors for the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America from 1973-1977. During that period he also served as a U.S. National Delegate to the World Council of the Armenian Church’s Cilician Catholicosate in Lebanon.

Mr. and Mrs. Hovnanian’s most beloved and perhaps greatest achievement is the founding of the Armenian School in New Milford, NJ, in 1976, which was renamed the Hovnanian School in 1984 in their honor. The Hovnanian School has graduated hundreds of young Armenian Americans who have gone on to attend the finest secondary schools, colleges and universities throughout the United States. These Alumni have become successful professionals and are, in turn, committed to serving the Armenian American community, and more recently, the newly independent Republic of Armenia.

On the occasion of the school’s tenth anniversary, Mr. Hovnanian was named Prince of the Armenian Apostolic Church by His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, in Antelias Lebanon (later His Holiness Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. The school is now celebrating its 27th academic year.

In keeping with his commitment to education, Mr. Hovnanian raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the aftermath of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia which he contributed to His Holiness Vasken I Catholicos of All Armenians to build a new school in the earthquake zone of Spitak. Since 1992, he and his wife have been major benefactors of the Hovnanian School’s sister school in Armenia, the Anania Shirakatsy Gemaran in Nork Massif.

Throughout the years, Mr. Hovnanian has been a generous supporter of numerous community and educational endeavors. He has served as President of the Howell Chamber of Commerce, in the community where V.S. Hovnanian Group is based. Additionally, he and Mrs. Hovnanian were Founding Members of Manhattan’s New York Academy of Art.

He has served on the Board of Trustees of Monmouth University in Long Branch, NJ, and serves on the Nominating Board for Brookdale College in New Jersey. He currently serves as a board member of America Israel Friendship League.

Mr. Hovnanian has received numerous awards throughout his career, which serve to highlight his commitment to the Armenian community:

  • Bicentennial Community Leaders and Noteworthy Americans Award by the Editorial Board of American Biographical Institute.
  • Howell Township Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Man of the Year.
  • St. Leon’s Armenian Church’s Outstanding Merit Award for his support of the Church’s growth and commitment to its youth.
  • St.Vartanantz Armenian Church Outstanding Merit Award for his noble endeavors for the Armenian Church and Armenian education of its children.
  • Armenian of the Year for 1989 by the Canadian Armenian Business Council.
  • Aram Zakian Award for “Outstanding Business Person of the Year” (1996) from the Armenian Students Association of America, Inc.
  • St. Krikor Lusavorich Medal by His Holiness Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
  • Ellis Island Award for his noteworthy contribution to America and for his Outstanding Citizenship.
  • Award for Grateful Appreciation for Years of Outstanding Service and Devotion by the St. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church.
  • 1998 Humanitarian Award from the The Interfaith Committee of Remembrance in New York City.

Believing that tourism would boost Armenia’s economy, Mr. Hovnanian convinced the Armenian Government to make tourism development a top priority. He successfully lobbied the U.S. Government to aid tourism development in Armenia. In May 2000, the Government of the Republic of Armenia chartered the Armenian Tourism Development Agency (ATDA), which was funded by USAID, Mr. Hovnanian and the Armenian Government. With their financial support and Mr. Hovnanian’s added initiatives, the ATDA has raised awareness of Armenia as a world class tourism destination and overall tourism to the beautiful country has increased over 92% since May 2000.

In 1995, the Hovnanians underwrote Armenia’s participation in the Venice Biennale and initiated fundraising for the first Armenian Pavillion there. They organized and chaired an international Ball held in Venice where over 250 Armenians from around the world gathered to support Armenia’s entry into the international arts scene. While planning this event, they initiated the Kantz Foundation to support young Armenian aspiring artists. Through the Kantz Foundation, and the Vahak and Hasmig Hovnanian Foundation, they have supported over 100 young artists from both Armenia and other countries around the world in their pursuit of prominent careers in the fine and performing arts.

Mr. Hovnanian founded the Sayat Nova Awards in May 2000. Created to stimulate the songwriters and composers and musical traditions of Armenia, the Sayat Nova awards have given financial support to many Armenian musicians young and old alike. In May 2002, The Vahakni Awards were added to inspire and support other artists in the performing, literary, film and fine arts.

Mr. Hovnanian is a warm and loving family man. Happily married for 46 years to Paris Hasmig Baghdoyan from Jerusalem, he is the proud father of his son Shant, and his daughter Nina. He and Hasmig have four beautiful grandchildren: his grandson Vahak, twin granddaughters Gayane and Katerina, and his granddaughter Paris.

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