STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Domenic Gatto, founder and CEO of Atlantic Express Transportation Corp., will retire on Dec. 31, 2013, after more than 40 years in the industry.
Forty-two years ago, a 21-year-old Gatto began driving a school bus for a small company based in Staten Island. He soon worked in the company’s administrative office between bus runs, and within two years, he purchased the company and became its owner.
At the time, the company had a 16-bus contract with the New York City school district. In 1979, Gatto asked his three brothers to join him in the business, and the company underwent a period of rapid growth. Today, Atlantic Express operates more than 5,000 vehicles in five states.
In 1998, Gatto and his brothers sold Atlantic Express to Greenwich Street Capital Partners. Gatto agreed to remain CEO of Atlantic Express for three years after the sale, but that turned into 13 years.
Now, Gatto — who will be 64 in February — has decided to step down from his post at Atlantic Express.
“It will be difficult to finally step down from the helm at Atlantic, but it is time for me to spend more time with my beautiful wife, my three children and nine grandchildren,” Gatto said. “I want to sincerely thank the more than 10,000 drivers, escorts, mechanics and support staff that helped and supported this company, as well as the hundreds of school districts and school administrators that have worked so well with us over the last 42 years.”
Gene Davis, Atlantic Express’ chairman, said that Gatto is a “longstanding leader in the school bus industry and has earned the right to enjoy a full and joyful retirement. His commitment and service was greatly valued and will be sorely missed.”
Officials said that Gatto believed in giving back to the school districts the company served. Under his leadership, the company contributed thousands of dollars in scholarships for special-needs students, and to charities such as Emergency Children’s Help Organization, the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, Deborah Hospitals, Hope for the Warriors and Disabled American Veterans.
Officials said that Atlantic Express will soon begin searching for Gatto’s replacement as CEO. Once the new CEO is in place, Gatto will serve as a consultant to Atlantic Express.
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