The Patrick K. Willis Co., which does business as American Recovery Service (ARS), had to make three executive changes this week following the passing of Peter Willingham, who was chief executive officer since 2010.

Taking over as CEO is Dave Copeland, while the company also elevated Dave Baker to chief operations officer and promoted Christian Beyer to senior vice president of compliance.

As ARS mourns the loss of Willingham, the vehicle repossession and investigation service provider will be leaning on executives who combine to have about 50 years of tenure with the operation.

During Copeland’s tenure at ARS, he has served in leadership positions for several departments throughout the company, including vice president of investigations as well as chief compliance officer.

In those capacities, ARS said Copeland directly contributed to expanding the investigative services division, formalizing the corporate human resources department, and implementing a professional standards division and compliance program.

“Considering Mr. Copeland’s established near 20-year history with our organization, we believe he will position our company for continued responsible growth and fiscal health,” owner and chairman Pat Willis said in a news release.

“Dave has demonstrated consistent strategic leadership qualities over the years and has a unique ability to command all aspects of the business, both tactically and strategically,” Willis continued. “During his time as COO, Mr. Copeland operated at a level beyond what is traditionally assigned to a COO, which will make this transition seamless for the organization, our business partners, and clients.

“While this promotion comes at a difficult time, I believe our organization and partners would all agree that Mr. Copeland is the best candidate for the role and that he will lead from the front as he always has,” Willis went on to say.

Copeland has served as chief operations officer since 2010, and over the last 14 years, he has partnered with the CEO and executive team in implementing multiple initiatives to support the company’s strategies for corporate expansion, ongoing technological advances, and increased levels of efficiency and scalability.

“I am humbled and honored to accept this new role as CEO,” Copeland said. “Peter was a great mentor and leader — he will be truly missed. We will honor his legacy and rise to the occasion as a team. Our organization is stronger because of his contributions and we will use that momentum to advance our cause.

“Our leadership team is committed to always being the standard by which our industry is measured,” Copeland added.

Baker joined the American Recovery Service team in 2008. Since then, ARS said, Baker has excelled in many positions, from skip investigations, special operations assistant manager, vice president of skip investigations and senior vice president of corporate compliance.

ARS noted that Baker’s long history of supervisory, management and executive management experience, along with his strong compliance and federal regulatory knowledge, made him the right choice to join the company executive team as chief compliance officer in early 2015.

Since then, Baker has been assigned executive oversight of compliance and vendor relations.

Baker attributed his leadership and inclusive management style to his 25-year law enforcement career, culminating in his appointment as chief of police.

Copeland explained that he selected Baker to serve as COO due to Baker’s established track record as a forward-thinking leader within the organization and industry alike.

“Dave Baker has a critical mindset toward operational efficiency and consideration for mutually beneficial outcomes with all stakeholders,” Copeland said. “His ability to work in a collaborative and participative manner compliments the symbiotic elements of our culture.

“Mr. Baker will support the continued optimization of service delivery and industry best practices to ensure an unmatched experience for our clients, customers and business partners,” Copeland continued.

Beyer started his journey with ARS in 2009 as part of the skip investigations team where he quickly progressed to team lead of investigations.

In 2013, Beyer joined the newly developed compliance program, serving as compliance officer, moving on to assistant vice president of compliance and in 2016 was appointed vice president of regulatory compliance and auditing.

With more than 15 years of private sector business experience and 10 years serving in law enforcement, ARS said Beyer’s management of its robust and intensive compliance auditing program has positioned the operation as one of the most compliant in the industry.

“Mr. Beyer has a solid understanding of our organization as well as the industry,” Baker said. “His ability to support client protection and risk mitigation while balancing operational efficiency has proven to be a valuable skillset.”

ARS said Beyer will lead the compliance division now that Baker has transitioned to his new role as COO.

Summarizing the transitions, the company said, “These leadership changes will position ARS not only to continue to deliver the same level of top-tier service to our client base but complement the optimization of our services.

“These executives know the business model and have been integral in crafting the culture and implementing the strategic plans for a decade. When considering emerging technologies, delivery of services, best practices, and other advancements, ARS will continue to lead the industry and always be the standard by which the repossession industry is measured,” the company said.