By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cantu: ‘City staff are the tools’
511 tactical.JPG

One of the humorous takeaways from Tuesday’s State of the City address by Mayor Ben Cantu at the Manteca Transit Center was what appeared to be an unintended double entendre.

 Cantu, in explaining how he saw the municipal process working to move Manteca forward called the community the leaders, the council the managers, and then declared “city staff are the tools.”

That line wasn’t lost on many in the audience who recognize in modern vernacular calling someone a “tool” is an insult as it means they are worthless, dysfunctional, aren’t smart, easily manipulated, and don’t act like a proper human being. Of course, that is not what Cantu meant to imply.

The use of the word drew more than a few laughs afterward as it was widely dismissed as not being intended to serve as the insult a teen would lob at someone but was used in the sense of “the hammers and saws” that build the city.

A couple of cheap

shots taken at

5.11 Tactical

More than a few people left  the State of  the City program wondering about the choice of Dan Costa, the founder of 5.11 Tactical, as the guest speaker. Part of it is that Costa is not with 5.11 Tactical any more nor was he when the firm decided to establish a 404,657-square-foot distribution center in Manteca on North Airport Way. Another reason is the fact after selling 5.11 Tactical he launched First Tactical (headquartered in Modesto) that is the biggest competitor globally to 5.11 Tactical that now provides 217 jobs in Manteca.

It gets worse. During Costa’s talk about entrepreneurship and the need to treat employees so they feel they are part of a company, he took a swipe at 5.11 Tactical for moving part of their operations out of Modesto to Southern California a number of years ago. At one point he said that allowed him to pick up 100 or so 5.11 Tactical workers that he contended had a strong loyalty to him inferring it wasn’t right to move the jobs south.

Then to top things off near the end of the program, the Manteca Chamber of Commerce honored 5.11 Tactical with the new large business award. To the credit of 5.11 Tactical representatives they handled the awkward situation gracefully.

While there should be no need to defend 5.11 Tactical the current ownership bent over backwards to try and find a place to keep their current 217 employees that were in Modesto and Lathrop. When scouting for a needed expansion site and to consolidate their operations, experts pushed them toward the Midwest where they argued logistics in terms of access to the world market and the labor market was more favorable. 

The ownership and management wanted to keep jobs local and pushed for a solution and came up with Manteca where they found was just as an effective place to do business and they wouldn’t lose their valued workforce.

I might add that 5.11 Tactical also has a retail store at the Manteca distribution center that has helped relieve the sting of losing REI in Stockton, at least for me.

They won me over from driving to Dublin to an REI store by offering some of the gear I manage to “destroy” hiking above 9,000 feet, rock scrambling, and during annual week-long trekking across alluvial fans, up canyons and hiking mountains cross-country style in Death Valley where it seems every six inches there are nothing but rocks to wear down your hiking boots.

While they don’t have the selection REI has they make it up, in my opinion, with better quality clothing and equipment. Slipping on smooth rock is no longer an issue and the durability of their boots are superior. Better yet, they were $80 less.

As for the “tactical” shorts I hike in that I bought from 5.11 the joke of people that I hike with is I can get bruises, cuts, and scrapes and the 5.11 shorts come out unscathed. At $55 a pair, they were $20 less than an REI version that I tore while I was struggling on one hike to avoid sliding down a ridge line hike to the 5,739-foot summit of Mt. Perry in Death Valley after it started raining and I lost my footing in the wet soil.

Obviously I don’t shop at the 5.11 Tactical store on Airport Way often but each time I have the staff has been exceptional.

From where I stand 5.11 Tactical deserves a bit more love than they got Tuesday. 

And if you don’t think having the 5.11 Tactical distribution center didn’t put Manteca on the map, I can tell you more than a few folks I known in law enforcement — including park rangers — across the country that are impressed by that fact.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email