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Medium For-Profit CEO of the Year – Patrick Connell, ARS Truck & Fleet Service CEO & Founder

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CEO & Founder Patrick Connell | PHOTO BY LUIGI CIUFFETELLI

Behind the scenes, Patrick Connell describes himself as a highly competitive person.

For years in his downtime, he and his daughter would run Spartan obstacle courses together. He’s recently slowed down, but at ARS Fleet Service, he’s still motivated to be at the top of his game for his family and his colleagues.

Founded in 1972 by his stepfather Armando De Vincentis, ARS Fleet Service back then was a mom-and-pop auto body repair shop. But when De Vincentis had a debilitating stroke in 1999 and his mother stepped back to tend to him, Connell stepped up. He was 30 years old.

“It was a combination of having the responsibility of the family and obligation to the business. In the end, it turned out the best for all of us. While he passed in 2017, he was able to watch me grow the business, and I was able to enjoy him as a father rather than a business partner,” Connell said.

Today, ARS Truck & Fleet Service has expanded into fleet repair and services as well as management, while also matining a full-service body repair shop. The company has branched out into repair of trailers and equipment, ranging from forklifts, ambulances, buses and commercial mowers. In 2019, the company acquired Delaware Truck Refinishers, which grew its workforce and revenue, as well as expanding to a 80,000-square-foot facility.

“To be honest, when I look at our growth in the last two decades, it’s all been organic. But it’s really ramped up in the last seven years after my father passed,” he said. “I really felt this deep sense of obligation to not just my family, but to myself and to be the best me I could be.”

During the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Connell said that he and his team committed to survive and later thrive during it. By 2021, revenue grew 39% over the past three years.

Looking ahead, Connell said the goal is to branch out throughout Delaware and continue its team development programs.

“One thing I’ve noticed throughout the years is the role of manager has shifted to mentor,” he said. “What people really want out of a career is a purpose. Any good business leader or owner is really spending the lion’s share of their time trying to deliver that.”

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