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Family affair: 3 generations of Maskells work at Electric Boat

October 6, 2018

Groton — In April 1969, Larry Maskell’s family moved from a small city in Vermont to Connecticut in search of work.

Maskell’s father was employed as a stonecutter but he was concerned about jobs for the rest of the family, namely Maskell and his six siblings.

“When it came time to get jobs, there was no jobs. You either cut stone, you drove a truck or you worked at a chicken farm,” Maskell, 62, said in an interview this week.

When he got to Connecticut, Maskell went through the shop program for machinists at New London High School. After graduating high school in 1974, he went straight to work for Electric Boat. He has been at the company ever since.

“I graduated high school on a Thursday, and I came to work here on a Monday,” he said.

Now, all these years later, the job has become somewhat of a family affair for Maskell. His wife, Karen, 65, also works at EB, as do four of his seven kids, some of their spouses, a niece, a nephew and a grandson. They span in age from 24 to 65.

“I knew I’d have lunch money,” Larry Maskell Jr., 37, joked about why he started working at EB.

His sister chimed in.

“If you forgot your lunch at home, you could go and see what dad had in his toolbox. Can of soup, leftover spaghetti,” said Charlotte Maskell Owren, 41.

While it’s common for members of the same family to work at EB, it’s unique for three generations of one family to work at the company at the same time, Maskell Owren said.

Despite the peaks and valleys inherent in working for a company that subsists on federal contracts and congressional support, the Maskells said they view EB as a place one can work for an entire career. It’s allowed them to stay in the area together, a perk for a family as close as theirs, for which Sunday dinners with the whole family is the norm, they said.

“There’s not a lot of companies that can give you that longevity, and certainly not with as many openings over the time that we’ve all been here to get almost the whole family in,” Maskell Owren said.

Some family members have faced layoffs over the years but then transitioned to another department.

“Overall, it’s been a good 10 years,” Maskell Jr. said, noting that he and his wife, Stacey, who also works at EB, own a home and are raising a family.

Larry Maskell has been at the company 44 years and Karen Maskell, 38 years.

“EB has been very good to us,” Karen Maskell said.

When she and Larry Maskell have received service awards, given to employees after reaching certain milestones at the company, “they call it the Maskell family reunion,” she said, noting the whole family has been there to support them.

“I tell them it’s cheaper than getting pictures at Walmart,” Larry Maskell quipped.

The work going on at EB now — steady production of attack submarines and construction soon to begin on a new class of ballistic missile submarines — is similar to what was going on when Larry Maskell started at the company.

“It’s almost exactly what happened 40 years ago. You’ve got a new class of submarine. You need new designers. You need fresh machinists. You need fresh welders. You have to upgrade everything,” he said. “It’s the same thing when I walked in 40 years ago, a million of us walked in at the same time.”

“I’m probably one of the only ones left,” he said, laughing. He then added: “That’s the way it works.”

j.bergman@theday.com

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