Wholesale & Distribution International - Fall 2017 - 15
That has certainly been the case with Frey
Gaede. The company was founded in
1948 by Arthur Frey, landing its first contract with Banker's Box, an Illinois-based
manufacturer of storage boxes for bank
records. That company is still in business
today (now known as Fellowes), and Frey
Gaede has since grown to be one of the
premier manufacturing representative
groups in the country.
Frey Gaede has a staff of 26 that covers
25 states in the Midwest, Southeast and
Southwest. The group specializes in office supplies, contract furniture, janitorial and safety products.
The company currently has four owners: Jim Gaede, who joined the company in the 1970s; John Frey Jr. (Arthur's
grandson), who joined in the '80s;
Todd Gaede (Jim's son), who joined in
the '90s; and Gary Brusa, who joined
in 2001. As that list of names indicates,
Frey Gaede strives to maintain a family-run approach.
"When we look at what we do, we have
a cultural belief that you have to work
harder, be honest and forthright, and
have to care about other people," Partner John Frey Jr. says. "We don't have
Frey Gaede hosts an annual golf tournament to raise
money for City of Hope, which funds cancer research.
egos. We win or lose as a team doing it
the right way."
And while there will always be issues
that come up with suppliers or customers, Todd Gaede notes how critical the
company's performance has been in handling challenges. "In sales there are always going to be problems," Gaede says.
"But customers will always remember
how you handled the problem, so it's critical to develop problem-solving skills."
One of Frey Gaede's first contracts was with
Banker's Box, a manufacturer of storage boxes.
Partner Jim Gaede says one of the
strengths of Frey Gaede has been its ability to adapt to paradigm shifts in the industry throughout its history. The first of
those took place in the mid 1970s with the
advent of buying groups. Similar to cooperatives, buying groups cropped up when
companies decided to pool their purchasing resources, committing to quantities
of products and driving down costs.
"For maybe the first 30 years, we would
deal with manufacturers and dealers,"
Gaede recalls. "But then buying groups
came along, we started working with
dealers who were a part of a buying group
entity. It has worked well for the individual dealers and our group."
The second large change in the industry took place in the 1980s with the
launch of huge superstores such as Staples and Office Depot. "Ultimately, we
formed relationships with their commercial sales force which controls more than
half of their business," Gaede says. "And
because of those relationships we were
able to serve large consumers."
The ability to adapt and adjust to those
two revolutions explains how Frey Gaede
was able to survive other sea changes,
such as the expansion of e-commerce.
Fall 2017 www.wdimagazine.com