Gladding-Hearn Co-Founder Dies at 87

Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Richard C. “Dick” Hearn, who co-founded Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, died July 3rd at his home in Arizona. He was 87.

Born in London, Mr. Hearn emigrated to the U.S. with his family at the age of six. They settled in Rhode Island, where Mr. Hearn later studied business administration at Bryant College before serving with the Army-Air Corps in the Pacific Theater during World War II. After the war, he returned to R.I. where he taught mathematics at a local high school and accounting at Bryant.

After serving as treasurer at Blount Marine, Mr. Hearn and Preston Gladding, the shipyard’s naval architect, formed Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding in 1955, to build steel workboats on the Taunton River in Somerset, Mass. In the same year, George Duclos, the shipyard’s current CEO, joined the company as a partner.

Mr. Hearn, known to be frugal and forward-thinking, founded Gladding-Hearn with modern accounting practices, including labor and material cost controls, the basics of which are still in use today. In the mid-1970s he added the use of personal computers for inventory control and accounting functions. During this time, he helped to develop apprenticeship programs at local trade high schools, which remain an important source of skilled, entry-level employees for the shipyard and area boat builders.

Following a leverage buyout in 1983 by the Duclos family and the death of Preston Gladding a year later, Mr. Hearn retired to Arizona with his wife Mary (Lowe) Hearn.

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