by Alexis Ann and John Stratton
Just in your mind, take a look around your house. There’s a lot surrounding you that you take for granted, that your mind skips over as commonplace, all those shiny “servants” waiting at the ready for your wishes. Yes, all those many tasks that you now have done for you by machines, clever devices that we call “appliances.”
Presiding over this recent domestic revolution are inventors, manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and…the service technicians who keep the systems operating.
When Glenn Dean, a 17-year old from Pittsburgh, signed on for Navy submarine duty in 1968, he did not know that in a scant four decades he’d be president of Coogan-Gildersleeve Appliances, a prosperous and respected appliance retail outlet, with many hundreds of trusting customers and some 30 lines of devices to make life at home comfortable, safe, and attractive. But that’s what happened.
Glenn volunteered for the Silent Service back in ’68. He soon received training as an interior communications technician, duty which included—for clearly Navy reasons— maintaining the washers and dryers aboard submarines, in addition to tuning up the host of ultra-high-tech instruments which tell sailors where the boat’s headed and how it’s running.
Of course, everyone on board has to know many other jobs, but Glenn was a bit prepared for the washer-dryer duty because his uncle Al had been an appliance repairman and installer for the landmark Gimbels department store in Pittsburgh. Al had taken Glenn under his wing for several years after Glenn’s father passed away, and taught young Glenn some hands-on technology in the field.
So, here at the Base in Groton—when Glenn was busy acclimating himself to his brand-new submarine, USS Bergall, SSN-667, an EB-built Sturgeon-class boat launched in 1968 that was noted more for speed than roominess—he was learning a lot about complex instrumentation as well as washer-dryers. But learn he did, and received his silver dolphins as a member of the pre-commissioning and commissioning team. The vessel was at sea during much of the cold war, with antisubmarine stealth missions demanding the full measure of the ship’s motto: “Invisible, Invulnerable, Invincible.” Tough and interesting duty, recalls Glenn.
When Glenn completed his years of service in the Navy, he had some familiarity with life in southeastern Connecticut. He was ready to settle down to life on the surface around here, leaving behind a lot of his life in Pittsburgh—except for remaining a staunch Steelers fan!
After a stint at Stanley Works, in 1976 he signed on with Ed Coogan and Andy Gildersleeve at their appliance division on Route 1 in Mystic; he was their first serviceman, handling four product lines. He plunged into that opportunity too, taking many night-school classes, refrigeration courses at Norwich Tech, and personnel-management programs at Thames Valley. Early on, his shoreside life included acquaintance with young C.J. Lewis of Mystic, who he married back then. They have two children, Stacey and Katie.
The dedicated work over the years added up to a big positive. When original owners Ed and Andy retired years ago, Glenn became the Coogan-Gildersleeve president. He’s remained true to their business traditions of sound business practice, superior service, good people, and thorough product knowledge. From the four brands that he started with 37 years ago, he and five service technicians now handle more than 30 products from their home base on Greenmanville Avenue, Route 27, in Mystic. And, as you might imagine, he’s Vet-friendly when it comes to hiring and sales. He’s been there.
Though products change, says Glenn, one key principle stands out: “It’s our commitment to helping our community and doing a good job for our customers.”