New Canaan Man’s Private Driver Business Hits One-Year Milestone

As an international food broker, J.R. Rooney had spent 20 years learning tristate area roads before launching the rapidly growing local business that’s seen him drive people all around them. Selling to wholesalers with warehousing in New Jersey and Brooklyn, the longtime New Canaan resident imported ham from the former Yugoslavia, tomato paste from Turkey and Italy, swordfish from Peru to Russia, and exported food from states throughout eastern Europe. When demand for those services diminished five years ago, he took a job that leveraged his people skills and astute knowledge of highways, traffic patterns, short-cuts and cut-throughs—with a car service that had him driving people in their own cars to the airport and other destinations. Yet about five years ago, with the rise of mobile ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber, that company changed its pay structure such that Rooney saw an opportunity to carve out a niche in the field. “I enjoy not being tied down to a desk, and I enjoy dealing with people and providing them with good customer service,” Rooney said Tuesday, as the business he created, The Driver Source, completed its first, highly successful year of operation.