HISTORY OF FREI
(as told by Jim Grundstrom, President of Frei Chevrolet)
Somewhere around 1913, Elmer Jones and Clayton Frei partnered on a Ford store, Jones & Frei Motors. They opened up at 114 W. Spring Street across from the old fire hall. Even today the original showroom glass graces the old dealership. The building dates back to the late 1800’s when it is said to have housed a laundry and a livery.
Time passed, and as the story goes, my Grandfather Frei made a move from Ford to Chevy in the early 1920’s. Ford’s business plan included painting every car black and stipulated that for every car a dealer sold they had to sell one tractor. This was a mighty feat since farming our rock-laden ground wasn’t feasible at the time. At this juncture, Clayton bought out Elmer Jones and Frei Chevrolet was born.
In 1945 my dad, Gerry Grundstrom, married Clayton’s daughter, Virginia Frei. Dad was with the Air Force in India predicting weather for raids on Japan when he asked Clayton to put the engagement ring on Virginia’s finger. Grandfather obliged. Dad took over at Frei in the early 1970’s when granddad passed away.
It’s hard to say when I began working at Frei, because I can’t remember NOT working at Frei. I became President of Frei Chevrolet in 1990 and had my work cut out for me. I remember every phase of this business; even things I’d like to forget (like the Vega). Chevy cars and trucks are in my blood; good, bad or ugly. There’s something about the fact that Chevrolet has always stood for the folks who go to work building better lives for our families. I say from the bottom of my heart that great things are brewing at Frei, at Chevrolet, and in the U.P.
As family tradition goes, our children, Andy and Jill are now working in our dealership. I can’t tell you how good it feels to work with them every day, watching them grow into this business. We’re proud of what we do. We’ve been blessed with employees we consider family and great customers who make our day when they put their trust in us. Our goal is to make our customers’ driving dreams come true and provide a lifetime of outstanding service.