Sheldon Lance, who founded the Waterford, Conn.-based marine retail business Defender Industries and ran the company for 75 years, died Oct. 13 at the age of 93.
Lance was a pioneer in the mail-order business and then in Internet sales worldwide. The business he founded is the longest-living marine outfitting company in the United States with a global following.
Defender is still owned by Lance's five children and is run by his son, Stephan.
According to company history, the elder Lance had a knack for finding bargains, and an early purchase of Army surplus parachutes proved to be a fortuitous match for those seeking material for sails and sea anchors. He sourced "seconds" of industrial fabrics in the garment district on Canal Street in Manhattan and, as Defender grew, it maintained a strong connection to New York's industrial fabric/textile companies.