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Johnny Umipeg going strong after 44 years at Manteca Ford

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Johnny Umipeg going strong after 44 years at Manteca Ford

Johnny Umipeg with Phil Waterford

Photo by SARAH MADDOX/


POSTED October 4, 2012 5:35 p.m.

Johnny Umipeg started in the automobile industry in 1968 as a sales representative at Knapp Ford. He graduated from Manteca High School in 1963, and continued his education at San Joaquin Delta College. Umipeg is a proud U.S. Air Force veteran who served 4 years in Southeast Asia.

Umipeg said, “When I returned home from my tour of duty, I was grateful to find a job in the automobile industry. Jerry Knapp owned the Ford dealership,  located at the time in the 500 block of West Yosemite Avenue. It was a time when you could buy a basic Ford Pinto for only $1,298.00, new. Pickup trucks were even cheaper than cars. A lot has changed since 1968.”

The dealership at 555 North Main Street has grown under the ownership of Phil Waterford. “I have a tremendous amount of love, respect and admiration for the Knapp family, not only for giving me the opportunity, but for treating me right over the years.”

“I believe Phil Waterford acquired Manteca Ford over 15 years ago. Phil continued Mr. Knapp’s philosophy of treating his staff and customers with respect and dignity. I have maintained my loyalty to Manteca Ford because Phil has exhibited so many positive attributes that have enhanced the quality of life for our entire community.

“I love coming to work every day. I will work here as long as they let me,” Umipeg said.

Over the years, Umipeg has built up a solid clientele of buyers. Some have purchased a dozen or more vehicles over the years. He has also sold cars to the kids and grandchildren of many of his clients. According to Waterford, “All of the accolades, awards and recognition including the ‘California Small Business of the Year’ can be attributed to Johnny’s hard work and tireless dedication.” 

Most recently, Johnny Umipeg received an employee excellence award directly from the President and CEO of Ford Motor Company, Mr. Alan Mulally. This very prestigious award recognized and congratulated Umipeg for his hard work and perseverance, and raising the bar in customer satisfaction, sales and training. “Much of the economic growth that Manteca Ford has been able to sustain over the years is a direct result of Johnny Umipeg’s commitment to our dealership. We applaud and thank him for being a key contributor for our ongoing success,” said Waterford.

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