Christian F. Frey

Christian F. Frey. In 1913 Mathias Ruoff, who, as a skilled workman at the blacksmith’s trade which he had learned in his native Germany, had been employed thirty years in the Leitelt Iron Works in Grand Rapids, and Christian F. Frey, manager of the works, with which he had become associated in 1888, in the capacity of office boy, and with which he had won advancement to the office of manager, became convinced of the industrial demand for a local plant that would effectively serve manufacturing machinists and tool and die makers in the metropolitan district of Grand Rapids. They had the courage of their convictions, and manifested this by organizing the Grand Rapids Forging & Iron Company, of which Mr. Ruoff became the president, Mr. Frey the secretary and treasurer, and Rollin H. Owen the vice-president. The new corporation proceeded to erect a suitable building, 40x100 feet in lateral dimensions, and this was placed in commission in 1913. At the start the principal equipment of the factory was one 1,500-pound steam hammer; in 1917 was added an 800-pound steam hammer, and in 1923 the battery was increased by adding the great 2,500-pound hammer. The company has the best of modern facilities for the production of all kinds of work in its line, and also carries in stock a large reserve of tool steel, mill steel, cold-rolled steel, and other supplies. In the World war period this company did a large amount of important production work for factories engaged in manufacturing varied lines of war supplies, and it was probably the first Grand Rapids concern thus to come forward in such war service. To meet the extraordinary demands this placed on the factory, the company, as its secretary and treasurer has expressed it, "pounded its facilities on the back for all it was worth." This policy, by which was avoided the enlarging of the plant, was one of distinct wisdom, for at the close of its special war service the company did not, like so many other industrial concerns, have investment in buildings and equipments that could no longer be used after the great stress of war production. However, the normal increase in the regular business of the concern did make demand for augmented facilities, and this the mechanical equipment has been expanded from time to time, as required, and in 1923 the factory was enlarged by the erection of a supplemental building, thirty feet square. Mr. Ruoff, president of the company, was born and reared in Germany, and as previously noted, he there served a thorough apprenticeship to the trade of blacksmith. He was twenty years of age when he came to the United States, in 1880, and virtually his entire business career in the land of his adoption has been staged in Grand Rapids. Mr. Frey, secretary and treasurer of the company, was born in Grand Rapids, in 1871, and after having profited by the advantages of parochial schools he took a course in a local business college. At the age of seventeen years, in 1888, he entered the employ of the Leitelt Iron Works, his connection with which continued until he became concerned in establishing the company of which he is now secretary and treasurer. His parents, Adam and Magdalena Frey came from Germany and became pioneer settlers in Grand Rapids, where they established their home in 1860 and where they passed the remainder of their earnest and useful lives.

Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 24 March 2005