Riverdale Mills founder dies at 88

BY Zachary Comeau

Photo | Courtesy
Photo | Courtesy
James Knott, Sr.

James Knott, Sr., the founder of Northbridge wire mesh manufacturer Riverdale Mills, has died at the age of 88, the company announced. 
Knott founded the company in 1980 and transformed it into a globally known company with more than 3,500 wire mesh product configurations for customers primarily in the lobster fishing business. 
“Great innovators make their mark by challenging the status quo and finding new ways to do things better,” the company said in a statement. “James Knott, Sr. unequivocally fit this category as a profoundly influential innovator, whose products help millions of people.” 
Knott earned an economics degree from Harvard College, studied mechanical engineering at Northeastern University, and served two years as a lieutenant in the Army.
Before starting his own company, he was CEO of Coatings Engineering Corp. in Sudbury and a a long-time director of the Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Co. in New York.
In the press release from Riverdale Mills, fishing industry experts commented on Knott’s influence on the fishing industry, calling him a visionary and innovative.
“His impact cannot be understated,” said Bob Bayer, executive director of the University of Maine Lobster Institute. "The technical changes he introduced to lobster fishing in Maine and throughout North America were profoundly significant. He singlehandedly changed and bettered the way of life for so many people.” 
Beth Casoni, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, called Knott one of the industry’s most prolific supporters. 
“(Knott) believed in sustainable fishing and supported our efforts to ensure the viability of the industry and conservation of fish species,” Casoni said. “On behalf of the entire industry, we acknowledge his contributions, are grateful for his involvement, and will miss him tremendously.”
Knott is survived by his four children, including James Knott, Jr., the CEO of the company since 2015. He leaves behind four grandchildren.