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Hatfield Buick GMC
"The chance to be a trusted adviser to 105 years worth of customers and their families is very rewarding to me."
“The chance to be a trusted adviser to 105 years worth of customers and their families is very rewarding to me,” nominee Hatfield said of his long-standing family enterprise. “I also take great pride in being a good employer to our many employees and their families. We are all in this together and we need to work together.”
A 1970 graduate of Redlands High School in Redlands, Hatfield earned a B.A. in government and history in 1974 from the University of Redlands, also in Redlands, where he was a member of Alpha Gamma Nu fraternity and spent a semester abroad in Salzburg, Austria.
In 1975, he started to work fulltime at the family dealership, which was originally founded by his grandfather in 1913 and shepherded by his father and uncle. “I began in high school as a ‘lot boy,’ washing cars, sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms and running parts,” he said. During college he worked in the parts department and later learned the ins and outs of the service area.
“Service has always been an important part of our business, and my dad and uncle wanted to make sure I understood and appreciated that,” Hatfield said. He then moved into sales and took over the entire operation upon the deaths of his father and uncle. Today, his two daughters work at the dealership.
In 2008, he faced his greatest challenge when General Motors informed him that he was a “wind-down dealer” with the possibility of being dropped by the automaker. “I was determined to stay in business and so was the community of Redlands,” Hatfield said. “Our customers and people we didn't even know wrote letters to General Motors and government officials in support of us staying open. It became clear through all of this that we are the community's dealership, not General Motors’.” He is proud that his business was reinstated and not one of his employees left during that year of uncertainty.
With such a strong and lifelong connection to Redlands, Hatfield is committed to giving back. “My involvement in the community has always been to try to facilitate and grow the good things that are going on in town,” he said. “Whether it be raising money or giving guidance, I feel it's my responsibility to support the community that has given so much to my family.”
To that end, Hatfield serves in leadership roles for YMCA of the East Valley; Redlands Community Hospital; Rotary Club of Redlands; A.K. Smiley Public Library; Lincoln Memorial Shrine; and the Museum of Redlands. He also supports the Redlands Community Foundation; Redlands Area Historical Society; City of Redlands Historic and Scenic Preservation Commission; American Red Cross; United Way of East Valley; Redlands Conservancy; local schools and many other groups.
Hatfield has received numerous awards and recognition for his contributions, but he is most proud of being named Redlands Man of the Year in 2003 by the Redlands Chamber of Commerce.
“Since I was born and raised in Redlands, it is very rewarding to be recognized by your hometown,” he said.
Hatfield was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Brian Maas, president of the California New Car Dealers Association. He and his wife, Lori, have two children.