Home Team

The third annual Love Promise Retailer of the Year, Subaru of Jacksonville, builds a legacy.

There’s no place like home. Just ask Jonathan Ratcliff.
 
Last year, Ratcliff, a bus driver for a Duval County school, was moving frequently between properties and taking public transportation to get to work and the grocery store. Today, he’s a first-time homeowner driving a new silver Subaru Forester. The change was brought about through the efforts of Love Promise Retailer of the Year Subaru of Jacksonville and its owner, Phil Porter.
 
Porter and Ratcliff met last summer during a building project for Beaches Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit housing ministry dedicated to eliminating substandard housing in the Jacksonville Beaches communities in northeastern Florida. Ratcliff was to be the home’s recipient and Subaru of Jacksonville was the project’s sponsor, with the retailer donating $157,500 to build three homes.

“I’m still riding the cloud,” says Ratcliff. “I told Mr. Porter, ‘When I close on my house, I’ll be coming to see you to buy a new car.’”

Phil Porter
Phil Porter. Photo: Scott Smith

Porter and his team committed to more than 200 hours of swinging hammers and hanging drywall to complete the homes. Many of the employees even gave up their days off from work to help. “It turned into a bonding experience with our team as well as with the people whose homes we were building,” says Porter.

Subaru of Jacksonville has a long history of giving back to the community. The retailer has donated to organizations such as Wolfson Children’s Hospital and Muscular Dystrophy Association, and signed on to sponsor another three homes for Beaches Habitat for Humanity. “We’re so grateful to Mr. Porter and Subaru of Jacksonville for their extremely generous donation to sponsor a total of six homes in our Ocean Gate neighborhood,” says Mary Anne Christensen, development director for Beaches Habitat for Humanity. “They recognize our mission of building and supplying simple, decent qualified housing for families in need.”

Porter, who established Subaru of Jacksonville in August of 2000 and also owns Center Subaru in Torrington, Connecticut, says, “Everyone, from service to sales to parts, understands that we’re in this together. What we accomplish as a team directly benefits everybody. Selling a car is not just selling a car; it’s the beginning of a relationship, and all we do in the community reinforces that.”