Learning Labs, Inc. founder Tom Richardson, 87, passed away Tuesday June 20th, 2017.
He was the son of Zuma and Iva Richardson of LaFayette, GA. At an early age Tom enlisted in the U.S. Air Force where he served 11 years before retiring. In 1967, Tom founded Learning Labs, Inc., an educational company focused on career and technical education.
Tom is survived by his loving wife of almost 66 years, Martha Richardson; daughter, Donna Slater of Chattanooga, TN; sons, Mark, David, and John, all of Calhoun GA; eleven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Fifty years ago, Tom started Learning Labs with little money; the first year's revenues were $11,000.
"We started out as a typical mom-and-pop type operation," he said back in 1994 when he was interviewed by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. "We made a lot of sacrifices along the way. Martha kept the books and provided the secretarial and administrative tasks, and I made the sales calls."
By the time he retired in 1994, the company employed over 20 people (including his sons, daughters-in-law, and his grandchildren) and had sales in the millions. In fact, one of Tom's goals was to see the company break $10 million in sales. That goal was achieved a few years ago.
Of course "retire" means different things to different people. After a short period of traveling and well-earned relaxation with Martha, Tom found himself back at the office every morning. He was responsible for checking air filters, getting the mail, standing over the fax machine waiting for orders, and so on. Every morning he would make the rounds and say hello to everyone in the building before settling into his chair in his office to watch Fox News, read the Wall Street Journal and take a mid-morning nap. If Tom wasn't in the office, Tom was sick. And Tom was almost never sick.
Employees both past and present, along with former business associates, have been sending along heart-felt condolences to our office. And while we'll celebrate his life and legacy over the next few days, our office doors will remain open and we'll continue to answer the phone.
Because Tom would want it no other way.