2020 End is in Site
“A Tribute to Frerichs Freight Lines”
Welcome everyone to my November 2020 “Al’s Corner” note. I would say most would agree with me that this year could not end fast enough. So, with that in mind I will try and stay positive and even hopefully make you chuckle. I also would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
On October 23rd, the Transportation Club of St. Louis had its fall golf outing at Quail Creek in South St. Louis. We had a huge turnout of over 100, but even with the terrific effort from Brad Reinhardt and his unrelenting determination and preparations, the weather dominated the day and was terrible. Cold, mid 40’s, windy, with a smidge of rain made it unbearable. Some people, like Nick Marr, got up in the morning, saw it was near 70 degrees and wore shorts (he is that tough!!!). Most teams played 10-15 holes and retired to the clubhouse and then on to Syberg’s in Arnold, MO. Personally speaking, my wife Kathy was FINALLY ASKED TO PLAY, and the weather killed her excitement along with most everyone else. Thanks to all the volunteers led by Todd, Penny, Miranda, LOW, Dawn, Maggie, Stace, Wendy, and Mike Burke. Awesome job, you guys are the Topps!
For this month’s topic I will be honoring and paying tribute to Frerichs Freight Lines, from Belleville, Illinois.
The reason I am is because after 73 years Frerichs Freight Lines closed in October. What an amazing story of persistence, determination and dedication that somehow continued through several generations.
It all started around 90 years ago with Herman Frerichs hauling milk. Herman was an entrepreneur who owned several businesses including a bowling alley. Bill Sr. and his brother Bob entered the business and started hauling milk when they were 13 years old in 1944. I am guessing this something like “war babies” as it was something that kids did to fill the gaps of adult males being in war, but again I am guessing. Incredible when you think about how kids live now! The younger brother may have been 8!
Before the company became FFL, it was called South West Motor Freight. Then ultimately became Frerichs Freight Lines in in 1947.
FFL started hauling for a paper plant called Eddy Paper in Belleville, Il., then in the 1960’s the plant became Weyerhaeuser. Bill Jr. joined the business with his father in 1986. Bill then became GM in 1993 and bought the company in 2000. International Paper took over the plant in 2008.
I believe I met Bill around 2005. He hauled lots of different lanes and loads for us. They were VERY dependable and fair in his pricing. I remember finding out that Frerichs Freight Lines was ranked as one of the top carriers out of thousands of companies for Anheuser Busch many years ago. Did not surprise me! For us, they hauled metals, beer, cans, pulp, pet food, rolled paper and many other items all with tremendous dependability. Of course, their main customer was the paper plant. Jerry Russel, who ran Bills dispatch was awesome as was Tanya who did his book-keeping. His drivers were loyal to the company too. Our officed valued them and cared for Bill’s company and he returned the consideration. It was personal.
Away from work, I found Bill to be a fun person with a passion that was unmatched for the St. Louis Rams. He was a one-man cheering section. He was well known for his distain of avoiding paying for parking for the games and would walk miles to avoid it! HA, HA, love that part. The NFL broke his and many other hearts when they left. Hopefully, the Battle Hawks will come back, and we will have some fun together with them.
Back to business, Bill Frerichs, carried on the legacy that his family had done before, and I would assume he may have done it even better. What may have happened at the plant this year is sadly what happens all the time now. It is way more impersonable and is now more about the numbers, and even sometimes the service is second. I am not sure if that happened in this case, but it does elsewhere. But obviously Frerichs Freight Lines did a great job, or it would not have lasted 73 years.
Finally, when I have mentioned this story to others in the industry, some find it sad. And I know Bill took it hard too. But think about it, what an unbelievable ride it was, so impressive in so many ways. I am only sad because we lost a small, but great trucking company that was easily one of the best around. Bill and his incredible wife Julie should hold their heads up high as they did a great job. It is also worth noting that Bill closed his business because he wanted to do it and was not forced to do it in any way. It just worked out this way. Financially speaking he will be just fine. I think he is taking a break from trucking, and after doing such a fantastic job, I would say he deserves it.
I have a feeling that he will resurface down the road, and if he does the trucking industry will be way better because of it! Good luck old friend, and thanks for everything.
Thanks, have a great month, Al Hursey
President Rockfarm STL