How I Got Here: Phillip Gorneault

Current Position: Phillip Gorneault is the maintenance director at Best Cleaners in Middletown, Connecticut.

The Company: Best Cleaners was founded in 1954 by William J. McCann, Jr. Since then, under the leadership of second-generation owners Bill and Sue McCann and third-generation president Shawn McCann, the Best Cleaners empire has expanded to fourteen locations. Their convenient hours of operation, home delivery, same-day service and environmentally-friendly methods have established Best Cleaners as the region’s premier garment care specialists for nearly 70 years.

The Best Team: Gorneault credits the past and present staff at Best Cleaners for helping him to learn and succeed in the industry. Their ability to work together as a cohesive team and willingness to equip him with the proper tools and training has been invaluable.

“Best Cleaners is a great company to work for, cares very much about their employees and goes above and beyond to take care of them,” said Gorneault. “The staff at Best is amazing; they will pull through for each other at all times whether it’s their department or not.”

Daily Duties: As the maintenance director for all fourteen Best Cleaners locations, Gorneault ensures that all equipment stays up and running and that the buildings don’t fall apart. “I am a firm believer in preventive maintenance and fixing equipment right the first time,” said Gorneault. “I take great pride in my work and where I work.”

In addition to staying current with daily operations, he can step in and help at the counter, racking, pressing, or wherever a missing team member is. “I will do whatever is needed to help see this business continue to grow,” he said.

The Early Years: His father was a truck driver by day and, to help make ends meet, a backyard mechanic by night. Gorneault recalls working on cars and equipment since he was in middle school. “After school, I would always go to the garage and help do what I could,” he reminisced. “I was always interested in how things worked and loved taking things apart and putting them back together.”

Although self-admittedly shy and not outgoing, Gorneault played football and baseball until high school. “I was into dirt bikes and quads and really enjoyed working in the garage, especially restoring classic cars,” he fondly remembered. “To this day, I still see some of those cars that my father and I restored. It is a great feeling seeing them still in great shape and hearing others talk about how good they look.”

Prior Jobs: Gorneault studied automotive repair at the Baran Institute of Technology after graduating high school. He interned at a local Ford dealership and couldn’t pass up the opportunity when they offered him a job doing suspensions and front-end alignments on commercial diesel trucks. A year later, the shop closed after the owner died in an automobile accident.

Gorneault landed at a recycling center where he worked on tractor-trailers, conveyors, forklifts and recycling equipment. Unfortunately, he sustained severe back injuries that forced him into several surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation.

Unable to return to work for the recycling center, Gorneault sought a career change. At the time, his mother was a manager at Best Cleaners, and they were looking to hire an assistant maintenance director. “They took me in part-time and was very helpful with getting me back on my feet and making sure I stay within my restrictions with my back,” said Gorneault. “After about a year, I was able to go full time; fourteen years later, my boss Gary retired, and I became the new maintenance director and have now been with the company for sixteen years.”

Real Struggles: His parents’ divorce at a young age forced Gorneault to grow up quickly so he could help his mother. He helped his dad work in the garage to make extra money.

“I had a daughter while in my senior year in high school, and the mother of my daughter took off with her for over a year, not letting me see her,” he said. “After a year of private investigators and lawyers, I finally got visitations and ended up getting full custody.”

After being hired by Best Cleaners, Gorneault had to undergo another back surgery, a two-stage fusion that sidelined him for one year.

Perspective: Though most of his life has had numerous difficulties and challenges, Gorneault said he wouldn’t return to change a thing. “These struggles made me appreciate what I have and made me the person I am today,” he mused. “I also know that no matter how bad of a struggle you are going through, someone is going through one much worse.”

Parental Guidance: “My mother was my biggest supporter and my rock, especially when I was going for custody of my daughter,” said a grateful Gorneault. “My father helped me out a lot, teaching me how to work on cars and equipment.”

Defining Success: “For me, it is family dinner every Sunday and seeing my kids grow,” beamed Gorneault. “Success is happiness and having a strong work ethic.”
Pearls of Wisdom: Gorneault subscribes to the belief that one should go above and beyond normal expectations. He said, “when you do a job, you should be able to look at it and say that is the best I can do.”

“Have pride in what you do and how you treat people,” he continued. “When talking to someone in any situation, talk to them as you would want someone to talk to your mother, wife, or daughter.”

Phillip Gorneault with wife Dawn.

Personal: A native of The Constitution State, Gorneault, who celebrated his 46th birthday last month, was born and raised in Berlin, Connecticut. He resides in his hometown with Dawn, his wife of 22 years. They have three kids (two daughters and one son) and a one-year-old grandson. When Gorneault is not hustling at Best Cleaners, he spends his time hunting, fishing, hiking and being present with family as much as possible. Two items on his bucket list remain unfulfilled — visiting Arizona and seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland.

John Leano works at BRYAN’S Cleaners & Laundry in Pasadena, California. He responds to email:

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