Charles Sears, who founded Dri-Air Industries Inc., died Aug. 5 after a recent battle with cancer.
He was 78.
As president of the manufacturer of drying systems for the plastics industry, Sears — known by everyone as Charlie — had no plans for any formal retirement from the company. He and Dri-Air were inseparable. He loved what he did and always said, "There are just too many things I want to do here at the company."
Services will be 11 a.m. Aug. 13 at South Congregational Church of Granby, 242 Salmon Brook St., Granby, Conn. 06035. A reception to follow.
Sears had more than 40 years experience in the design and manufacturing of drying systems.
He started Dri-Air in 1985, and the company became a leading supplier of dryers. He was a noted authority on drying technology and applications and held several patents. His expertise and leadership helped the company record double-digit growth each year. Dri-Air, based in East Windsor, Conn., employs 27.
Dri-Air is a family-owned business. Sears' wife, Esther, manages the accounting. His son Jason, who has been with the company for 27 years, manages operations.
Sears was a good storyteller, who had strong opinions on a wide range of subjects. One favorite topic was education and the challenge of attracting young people to manufacturing. In a 2014 letter to the editor that ran in Plastics News, he closed by writing: "My point is that we all have to work together to make it work. I have been fighting this concept that everyone has to go to college for years to no avail. Maybe someday our country's education system will realize we need factory workers, plumbers, construction workers, carpenters, brick layers, mechanics and the list goes on. Until then, we will continue to graduate people from college with huge loans and no jobs."
Before founding Dri-Air, Sears held senior positions with plastics industry companies such as Polymer Machinery Inc., Automated Assemblies Corp. and Nelmor, part of AEC Inc.
Sears was never afraid to take a challenge. In 1967, when he was 26 and newly married, he and Esther moved to Hong Kong to start a manufacturing facility. He returned to the United States after three years and began his career in plastics.
Sears earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Northeastern University and a master's in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Sears is survived by his wife, Esther, daughter Wendy O'Seep and her husband Greg and their two children Austin and Carolyn; son Jason Sears and his wife Rebecca and their sons Caleb and Josh. He also leaves his Dri-Air family of employees.
In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer to see donations in honor of Charlie Sears to support the next generation of plastics engineers through scholarship support at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell or the plastics collection at Syracuse University Libraries.