“It is with great sadness we announce the passing of our founder, Leonard James “Jim” Chant.” said Patrick Shire, Vice President Sales and Marketing for Chant Engineering Co. Inc.
Mr. Chant’s strong vision drove the company to become a leading manufacturer of testing machinery, reeling machines, test stands and other related rigging shop accessories. He was not only an innovator ahead of his time but also an iconic figure in our industry.
Leonard James “Jim” Chant, age 89, died peacefully at home on Thursday, June 15, 2017, surrounded by his loving family. Born in Lewisham, a town in southeast London, England, he was the son of the late Sidney and Doris (Barnes) Chant.
In 1937 homes in Lewisham were being wired for electricity. Jim observed the electricians at work, and when all the work was completed and the lights switched on, Jim knew at that moment what he wanted to do with his life. At the onset of WWII, when Jim was 11 years old, he earned a merit scholarship to attend Bancroft’s School, a boarding school for boys. Had the war not ended Jim would have joined the Royal Air Force at 17. It did end, however, so Jim continued his education. He earned a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of London in 1949, the first in his family to attend a university. Jim was a Chartered Professional Engineer and Chant Engineering’s founder.
For eight years he was also the US Representative of the British Institution of Engineering and Technology, one of the world’s largest engineering institutions.
In 1959, as a young British engineer, Jim was recruited to be part of the nascent US space program. He and his wife Barbara, with their growing family, immigrated to the USA on the ocean liner Hanseatic. The family first settled in New Jersey before moving a few years later to Pennsylvania.
In 1962 Chant was hired as the Chief Engineer at Boonshaft and Fuchs Co., a small but well-known Government testing equipment and machinery manufacturer. Jim was one of the designers of the human centrifuge at the Johnsville Naval Air Station, where astronauts Alan Shepard and John Glenn, part of the renowned “Mercury Seven,” trained for the early 1960’s Mercury Space Missions. After working for other engineering companies, Jim founded L. J. Chant and Associates in 1970 in the basement of his Hatboro home. This company later became Chant Engineering Co., Inc., from where he just recently retired as CEO. A serial entrepreneur and developer, Jim was always involved in something and constantly seeking his next project.
In 1976 the company moved to a rented garage, a technician was hired to help out and the name was changed to Chant Engineering Co. Inc. The company remained unchanged until 1986 when Philip Chant, Jim’s fourth and youngest son joined the company as a full-time employee.
In 1988, Chant moved its location to New Britain, PA where they built their first new 10,000 sq. ft. facility. Chant products are still to this day manufactured in the U.S.A. in a larger 55,000 sq. ft. facility just a few blocks away from the original facility.
Involved with his local community New Britain Borough for over twenty years, Jim and Barbara recently donated land to expand the nature preserve in New Britain Borough. In recognition of this, the Borough has named this section of the nature preserve as Chant’s Woods.
He leaves behind his beloved wife Barbara after 65 years of marriage, children Steven (Kaoru), Peter, Michael, Philip (Lori) Chant and Christine (Rob) Schuyler, ten grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Jim touched many lives. He was intelligent, pragmatic, generous, confident, wise, caring, a willing advocate for others, and went out of his way to support the endeavors of others without judgement. He expected the best from individuals, businesses and government. Unlike many people, when he found a problem he would take the initiative to address it trying to make a positive change. Jim would attempt to engage others with private chats, and if necessary finding and talking to supervisors, CEOs, even writing letters to government officials, congressmen, even the President of the United States. In these discussions, Jim often got results as he was always a gentleman, never argued, and treated everyone with polite respect. He honored his word, and expected others to do the same. He believed in the innate goodness in people, and maintained a positive outlook and attitude throughout his life. Husband, father, mentor, friend, he will be greatly missed.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the New Britain Food Larder in care of the New Britain Baptist Church.
Today Chant Engineering is still a family owned and operated business run by Jim Chant’s son, Phil Chant, its President since 2000. “Over the years, Phil has been able to preserve his father’s vision and together with his father facilitated the company’s growth to nearly 60 employees.” said Jules DiRienzo, Vice President of Operations for Chant Engineering Co. Inc. “It is a very sad time and we all have a heavy heart as we mourn Jim’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Chant family and staff.” said DiRienzo.
For more information about Chant Engineering, please visit www.chantengineering.com.