Fleet Equipment Founder Rick Pearson Dies

May 5, 2023

Richard Pearson, longtime owner of Fleet Equipment Corp., died on May 3 after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 89 years old.

Pearson was born in Akron, Ohio, to parents George and Marie Pearson and was the second oldest of four sons.

He attended Bath High School, where he was a stand-out athlete playing three sports.

After graduating from Ohio State University, he served in the U.S. army Nike/Hercules Missile Division in Fort Bliss, Texas, and married the love of his life, Mary Ann.

From Texas, he was transferred to Fort Knox, Ky., where he completed his assignment.

His first job was with General Tire & Rubber Co. in Akron, where he was a territory salesman and at that time saw the need within the tire industry for a complete tire service truck.

After leaving General, Pearson worked for Hesse Carriage Co. in Kansas City, Kan., and was then moved to New Jersey to manage the company's East Coast plant.

In 1965, with $300, he started Fleet Equipment Corp. from the home he shared with Mary Ann and their two children. 

As the company grew, Pearson opened a manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania.

"Rick was an innovator and pioneer in the tire service truck industry and earned the respect of his customers and vendors, who quickly became his friends," according to his obituary. "As he became successful, one of his greatest joys was mentoring people who were striking out on their own.

"His business associates often became partners in other endeavors, like a cattle ranch in Wyoming, oil and gas field exploration in Colorado and car dealerships in Long Island. He loved being involved in many businesses.

"He was curious about everything and everyone and enjoyed learning and teaching. If you asked him what time it was, he would often teach you how to build a watch.

"Rick was an avid sports fan and a lover of dogs, particularly his black labs. Rick supported Mary Ann’s charity involvement with children’s charities and was in wonder at the work she did.

"He enjoyed deep sea fishing, but his greatest joy was his family."

Preceded by his granddaughter, Molly, Pearson is survived by Mary Ann, his wife and business partner of 65 years; daughter Pam; son Scott; daughter-in-law Margaret; and grandsons Charlie and Henry.

A celebration of life will be held at Trinity Church; 55 George St.; Allendale, N.J. on Friday, May 12, at 6 p.m. EST.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Rick Pearson’s name to support his friend, Dr. Abou-Alfa, and his work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Checks can be made payable to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and mailed to MSK Cancer Center Office of Development; P.O. Box 27106; New York, NY 10087 and mark in the memo line: “This gift is in memory of Rick Pearson”.