Phil Waterford — a businessman driven to serve the less fortunate in the community — is being inducted into the Manteca Hall of Fame.
The dinner and induction ceremonies are taking place Saturday, May 21, at the Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane. Tickets are $60 apiece and are available through the Manteca Boys & Girls Club, 545 W. Alameda St., or by calling 239.5437.
Other inductees Henry C. Long, agriculture; Richard Moon Yee, Health Care; Randall K. Yee, Health Care; Michael Bruce Mallory, Business; Peter P. Dalben, Government; Arnita Marie Yepez, Community Service; George (Joe) Handy, Education; and Walker Vick, Athletics.
Waterford is being inducted in the field of special recognition.
Waterford ended up in Manteca in 1997 after growing up in inner-city Chicago when he was picked by Ford for training potential dealership owners.
The gig required him to work six months first as a general manager and then things would be reassessed at that point.
Ford had Waterford look at some dealerships in Southern California. Nothing clicked for him. Then, before heading back to Illinois, Ford asked him if he’d take a look at one more dealership the Central Valley. Ford flew him to the Bay Area.
It was driving to Manteca from the airport that Waterford came across a view that took his breath away. Much like the early Spanish explorers from 270 years ago, Waterford was stunned and impressed by the view that lay before him as he crested the Altamont Pass.
Waterford liked what he found in Manteca: A good wholesome family atmosphere and good demographics.
He made a short call to his family in Chicago, asking what the temperature was. It was 10 degrees in the Windy City. It was 55 degrees in Manteca. He was sold.
In 1997, the partnership was struck. Phil Waterford’s Manteca Ford was open for business. The turnaround was so strong that instead of buying out Ford’s interest in the deanship in 14 years, Waterford was able to do it in 39 months.
Waterford said he was fortunate to be able to build on the foundation put in place by the Knapp family that had owned the dealership for decades before it went through several different owners.
Waterford’s awards for his business prowess are numerous including five from Ford ranging from Partners in Quality to the Rising Star Award. But it his community endeavors that arguably has left the biggest mark on the community.
uFor the past five years he has opened his dealership on Christmas Eve to serve a free breakfast to more than 1,000 people plus provide kids with toys.
He is a long-time financial backer of the Memorial Weekend Commemoration at Woodward Park.
Waterford is a supporter of numerous community non-profits such as the Manteca Boys & Girls Club. While he opens his checkbook to make sure kids have a chance for a better life, he also goes a step further. This week, for example, he took a Boys & Girls Club member of the year to the Golden State Warriors playoff game where she had courtside seats.
His biggest contributions to the community, however, might just be his random acts of kindness and willingness to share his strong faith.
The faith and grace are reflected in numerous heartfelt gestures that range from grand to small:
Providing a disabled Vietnam War veteran that has devoted his life to spreading the gospel with a new Fusion to replace his unreliable junker. He has also provided new cars to other veterans in need.
Paying the mortgage for a number of months for a law enfacement officer with a young family who was laid off due to budget cuts.
Raising money for countless people struggling with medical expenses and hardships.
Pulling up alongside a motorist and telling her to go to his dealership to have a broken taillight changed on his dime
Declining to press charges against a homeless man who damaged vehicles on his lot and instead helping him on his way.
Assisting a family whose young daughter was struck in a crosswalk.
Helping pay the medical bills of a solider severely injured in a major vehicle accident while on leave.
Donating vehicles to struggling single moms.
The list is endless because every day Waterford choses to live the life of the iconic American business man who is the heart, soul and backbone of his community.
Among the numerous awards he’s received in addition to those from Ford Motor Co. are:
The Manteca Chamber of Commerce Mabel Brocchini Community Service Award in 2011 plus additional community service honors in 2003, 2006, 2012, and 2013 for caring about the community, giving his time and striving to make things better for others.
The California Small Business of the Year for the 26th District.
A Manteca City Council proclamation in July 2010 lauding his business skills and community service.
Waterford and his wife Rose have four children: Phil Jr., Eric, Brandyn, and Amare.
Waterford enjoys basketball, track and field, football and baseball. He also enjoys radio controlled airplanes, helicopters, cars, trains, classic cars, exotic cars, reading, writing, and music. He is also passionate about public speaking, coaching and mentoring youth.