A local car dealer and philanthropist has been nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year Award, which honors auto sellers around the country who give back to their communities.
Among the 47 nominees for 2018, William Fenton, president and owner of Fenton Family Dealerships, is the only from New Hampshire.
Fenton Family Dealerships operates Toyota-Volvo of Keene and Honda of Keene in East Swanzey, as well as Hyundai of Keene and Subaru of Keene on Production Avenue in Keene.
Fenton, his family and his employees have supported nearly 100 area charities since 1986, including the Keene SwampBats, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire, the Hundred Nights shelter in Keene, Monadnock United Way and the Keene Family YMCA, according to a bio on the website of Ally Financial, one of the award’s sponsors.
In an interview Friday, Fenton, 65, of Keene, said he is most proud of an annual golf tournament he puts on to support The Community Kitchen in Keene. The event, which has been running for a quarter-century, raised nearly $40,000 in 2017, he said.
“For the 25 years, we haven’t hit a million, but we’re damn close,” he added. He said the vendors and manufacturers he works with through his dealerships also pitch in by sending donations and participants to the tournament.
The N.H. Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group, nominated him for the award, Fenton said.
He found out in September, when his son invited him to a mysterious meeting in Manchester that purportedly had to do with “family businesses.” When Fenton walked in, he was surprised to see his wife and daughter, along with leaders of the dealers association, who began to applaud.
“I knew I’d been sand-bagged,” Fenton said.
Peter J. McNamara, the dealers association president, did not respond to a request for comment.
Fenton said the winner will be announced at the annual National Automobile Dealers Association convention in March, which he plans to attend.