Ken Summers has a true passion to help people.
And it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
At the Manteca Chamber of Commerce Installation Dinner last month, Summers was honored when P.L. Fry and Son – of which he is a managing partner – was named the organization’s Small Business of the Year.
“We were absolutely thrilled and surprised at the same time,” Summers said. “My grandparents had been members of the chamber from the original days – back as far as the chamber has been around.
“This was an honor not only for the business or the employees in my eyes, but for my grandparents as well.”
The business, Manteca’s only funeral home, has served residents since 1932 when it was located on East Yosemite Avenue just west of downtown Manteca.
Summers has been involved in some capacity since he was 15 years old, and has been working full-time for the family business for the last 25 years. He learned the ropes from grandmother Lucille Fry.
While he spent the early part of adulthood working for the Dana Corporation in Industrial Park, his grandmother mentored him. She helped him get more comfortable with the facets of the business and showed him that the service offered helps families as they deal with one of the hardest transitions they’ll face.
Now, Summers turns to his staff of 10 to help carry on that tradition and offer that same level of service to the families that walk through his doors looking for closure.
“I think, speaking on behalf of myself and my staff, what makes this business is the true passion to help people,” he said. “That’s what we’re here to do – guide families to the best of our ability and help them cross that bridge a little bit easier. We’re not here to take away that pain, but hopefully make this transition a little bit easier.
“We’re here to help the living in this most difficult time, and I think that’s what our staff does such a great job at.”
And receiving the award carried a little bit of extra meaning for Summers as well.
Daryll Quaresma, the Chamber President that presented the award to P.L. Fry and Son, happens to be Summers’ cousin – placing a special emphasis on the family bond that means so much to the man that has given the majority of his life to a business that celebrates those that pass over to the other side.
The fact that it came from the organization that Summers has been involved with in the past was only icing on the cake.
“I think, above all, through the generations my family has loved this community,” Summers said. “We understand that we have a huge responsibility here, and we know that being involved in this community, even though it has grown a lot and changed a lot, is important.
“Our goal is to help families, and by being involved gives people the opportunity see a familiar face and somebody that they trust. That’s very important when you’re in a business like this, and I’m grateful to be a community like this where we can build that level of trust with people.”