Ford Announces 2024 Salute to Dealers Award Winners

Feb 02, 2024
7 MIN READ

Salute to Dealers is a Ford Motor Company initiative that recognizes and honors Dealer Principals who have gone above and beyond in their communities. They dedicate time and resources to help improve the lives of others, through their support of countless charitable causes. Their compassion and kindness provide help and hope to so many that truly need it.

Now in its 24th year, Salute to Dealers is championed by Henry Ford III.

“I am honored to recognize our dealers for all they do to support communities across the globe every day,” said Ford. “They continually find ways to give back and, in the process, make a tremendous impact on so many.”

Dealers from around the globe were nominated for the 24th annual awards. Both Ford and Lincoln Dealer Principals are eligible to be nominated by their dealership or regional representatives. A panel of judges selects the honorees based on the dealer’s individual activities, length of participation and personal motivation. In recognition of the Honorees’ service to their communities, Ford held a reception on February 1, preceding the annual National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The honorees received a custom painted portrait featuring a montage of their philanthropic efforts and involvement in their communities. Copies of the portraits will be on display in the lobby of Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan for year-round viewing. In further recognition, Ford Motor Company Fund is donating $10,000 in each honoree’s name to a charity of their choice.

This year, Ford recognized the following Dealers for their generosity and commitment to their communities:

Randolph Barksdale

Courtesy Ford – Conyers, Georgia

Randolph Barksdale is deeply committed to his community, as evidenced by his immense financial support for countless causes and the many foundations he works with for the betterment of the underserved and underrepresented.

One example close to his heart is BrettWorks, named after his late brother. He co-founded this non-profit to recruit, train and provide job placement for adults with disabilities. The impact this organization has on those it helps has been immense.

Barksdale is also a proud supporter of the A.R. “Gus” Barksdale Boys & Girls Club, named after his father, who started the Barksdale tradition of giving back to the community. Through Randolph’s support and involvement, the Club has ignited the potential of local children by creating a safe and engaging environment for them to dream, discover and develop.

Barksdale is also personally involved with a local ministry that helps underserved residents by providing much needed groceries at no cost to participants. Volunteers also offer prayer, support and encouragement to visitors.

Additionally, Barksdale is an ardent supporter of Georgia Southwestern State University, making annual contributions while personally assisting in numerous projects throughout the year. His giving spirit cascades through his dealership employees as they volunteer their time to support the local high school athletic program. They also volunteer in a sports league for those with disabilities.

It is through these and numerous other charitable endeavors that Randolph Barksdale’s leadership and commitment to his community shine through.

Joe Chastang

Chastang Ford – Houston, Texas

Joe Chastang has a true passion for his community and is invested in its success. Supporting a myriad of causes, he continually finds ways to give back.

Chastang’s remarkable involvement with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has left an indelible impact on the community's educational opportunities, providing significant funding for scholarships and empowering Texas youth to pursue their academic aspirations. His financial support for the University of Houston plays a key role in enhancing the University’s athletic program and demonstrates his commitment to athletic and academic excellence in his community.

Beyond education and athletics, Chastang’s philanthropic endeavors encompass a wide range of causes including his dedication to animal welfare, witnessed by his generous donations to numerous local shelters. His tireless work to develop minority dealers showcases his dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

A non-profit bereavement center offering free grief support services for children, families and adults, the Alzheimer's Association and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are only a few of the many other charitable organizations supported by Joe Chastang. His leadership and work in and around the Houston community demonstrate his willingness to give back, and in doing so, helps make his community a much better place to live and thrive.

Pat Priestner

CanadaOne Auto – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Pat Priestner, his family and his dealerships, collectively contribute countless hours and resources back into the communities where their dealerships are located through numerous organizations and philanthropic initiatives.

One example is Well-being Canada, established by Priestner to provide resources to K-12 educators to promote mental health with the goal of well-being, resilience and growth in their students.  In addition to a multi-year financial commitment, his support includes local giving efforts focused on mental health in each of his dealerships’ communities with resources for employees and their families.

Led by his example, Priestner’s family and employees regularly volunteer at local community centers, providing a myriad of support services for homeless and poverty-stricken individuals and families. One in particular is Boyle Street Community Services, where families learn how to empower themselves to escape the challenges of a negative life cycle. Added support for the center comes through a significant monetary pledge from Priestner for the construction of a new home for the facility.

Charitable efforts also include committing to 40,000 volunteer hours of employee time, over five years toward the Realizing the Dream program across Canada. The program strives to continue the legacy and unfinished work of the King family by championing freedom, justice and equality and working to eliminate poverty. Volunteering at Boyle Street and through the Well-being Canada program contributes to the pledged hours, along with numerous dealership local community events.

Priestner not only provides time, services and resources to many charitable causes across Canada, but he demonstrates the importance of giving through his leadership and personal engagement. This includes leadership training in his dealerships and writing a book titled Notes for the Children, based on his 50+ years of experience in the automotive industry. All proceeds go to the Well-being Canada initiative.

His guidance and mentorship cascade through his family, the dealerships he owns and his employees. The impact is immeasurable and touches individuals and families throughout Canada and beyond.

Amadeo Quirós

Grupo Purdy – Ford Costa Rica – San José, Costa Rica

Amadeo Quirós is deeply committed to improving the environment around him and to sustainability initiatives, as witnessed by his active involvement and support focused on these key issues.

His actions have benefited local and surrounding communities through his work on energy improvements, rainwater capture, waste management, recycling campaigns, beach cleanups and re-forestation initiatives - efforts earning him a prestigious environmental award from the Costa Rican government.

Quirós’s extraordinary efforts have also inspired other dealers to take similar actions in and around their operations and empower other business owners to do the same.

His work extends beyond these disciplines to include important educational initiatives impacting his dealership employees and the surrounding community. One example is Purdy Cole. This program, established by Quirós through the Ministry of Public Education, supports employees’ efforts to complete their high school education, providing them with access to better job opportunities within the organization and the community. Graduation from the program is one of the most rewarding and emotional days celebrated by his employees.

He also sponsors educational workshops teaching employees how to appropriately use and manage their financial resources. The end goal is to guide them in improving their personal well-being and quality of life. 

Whether championing efforts to improve the environment and encouraging other business leaders to follow better sustainability practices or supporting his employees’ education goals, Amadeo Quirós’s philanthropic reach is limitless. He is always looking for ways to make a difference in the lives of others, and it shows.

Mitch Walters

Friendship Ford of Bristol – Bristol, Tennessee

Mitch Walters is deeply involved and extremely passionate about finding ways to give back to the community with a focus on organizations that benefit children, animals and education.

His financial and personal commitment to Camp Friendship, provides the region’s youth with a welcoming place to learn and play. In addition to purchasing over 18 acres, Walters built a recreation center, dining hall, boat docks, hiking trails and an authentic Indian Teepee. He also supplied boats, kayaks, canoes and all other essential equipment to support the camp’s operations.

Walters and his company also donate over 250 bikes annually to deserving children. The Friendship Bikes for Kids program makes dreams come true. His generous reach also includes causes that impact animals and wildlife in the region, such as building a new animal shelter and a much-needed dog park. His dealership established an adopt-a-pet program, which is instrumental in helping homeless animals find their forever homes.

Walters’ generosity doesn’t stop there. The donation of his old dealership facility to the local school system enabled it to open The Friendship Career Center, a facility that prepares at-risk students for success in high-demand and growing careers they would otherwise not be able to achieve. Students also learn the fundamentals for productive living.

Mitch Walters’ generous contributions run far and wide, always demonstrating a commitment to service above self and a giving attitude toward helping others.

Miguel Zapata

ZAPATA, SA de CV – Tlalnepantla, Mexico

Miguel Zapata and his dealership team have made tremendous contributions to their community through their work with Proyecto NiñoThis annual community health and welfare initiative provides comprehensive healthcare education and much-needed medical services to vulnerable and low-income families.

Serving as the director, Zapata has donated critical funds to provide medicines and cover expenses to keep the project moving forward. He also heads up a team of five dealership personnel who collaborate and volunteer their time providing key services for the initiative. Services provided by professionals, who also volunteer their time, include pediatrics, dental and vision care and geriatric support. Combined, their efforts have contributed to a marked improvement in the general health of the community as well as improved hygiene and personal care habits, all leading to a more vibrant and engaged population.

Zapata’s community service extends well beyond Proyecto Niño. His work with the local Junior Achievement chapter includes funding scholarships to further the education of participants and providing dealership managers to serve as volunteer counselors and mentors. He also provides important resources to multiple Ford schools in the community while coordinating various Ford civic programs for the students.

The continual support provided by Miguel Zapata and his dealership employees for the above and other causes demonstrates his unwavering commitment to the well-being of the community and is a testament to his leadership and caring nature.