Larry Girard, a long-time industry veteran, who worked with A & E Systems for 17 years, died Jan. 4.
Girard was an engineer with Controls Research and Honeywell working on the Apollo LEM Program, before coming to the RV industry.
After a prolonged illness, Girard died peacefully in the presence of his wife, Marcia Ann. He was born on April 10, 1940 in Quebec, Canada.
“He will be missed,” Girard’s friend and business partner Jerry “Major” Pogue said. “To me, he was like an older brother.”
Girard joined A & E Systems Inc. in 1973 as the company president. In 1979, Girard purchased the company from A & E Plastic Pak in one of the first leveraged buyouts in the United States and the RV industry.
His leadership led to purchasing additional companies to diversify A & E Systems and in his words: “We have to position ourselves to move toward the 21st century.”
“He was unique in many ways,” Pogue said, adding that Girard was an early pioneer that helped make awnings common on OEM units.
“Back in 1970s, you didn’t get an awning unless you went to a dealer,” Pogue said. “And he was an innovator in packaging, where the OEMs started installing awnings instead of dealers. He was extremely progressive, and a genius in many ways.”
Girard’s dynamic guidance and innovation allowed A & E Systems grow from $8 million dollars in 1979 to $100 million by 1990.
He retired in 1990 to travel the world with his wife and his family. After many years of traveling, Larry and Marcia settled in Southern California, where Larry encouraged Marcia to start Girard Systems, a new awning company, with a new concept in lateral arm awnings, and he encouraged Girard Systems diversify into the water heater business.
He is survived by his wife, Marcia Ann Girard, daughters, Susan Everett, Catherine Cobb, Lori Schultz, Monica Fernandez, Jennifer Bernstein and his grandchildren, Christina Cramer, Logan Everett. Alicia Everett, Faith Everett, Ryan Everett, John Cobb IV, Caiden Donham, Kelly Cobb, Christian Fernandez and Cannon Fernandez.
A “Celebration of Life” Memorial is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 7, 2015 in San Clemente, California.