Ken Frew, Founder & Past President
Ken Frew founded Mail-O-Matic in 1967 and for the next 44 years served as president of the company, until his passing in October of 2011, at the age of 73.
But Ken was more than our president. He was our friend and our inspiration. He was proud of his employees, whom he made feel like family, and always made it clear that he knew their hard work was the main reason for the company’s success.
Ken came by this respect for employees naturally. As a teenager he delivered newspapers before going to school and worked at a bakery after school. After graduating, he landed a job in the mail room of the The Vancouver Sun and The Province, hand-stuffing newspapers with advertisements and inserts.
A fellow worker, impressed by Ken’s work ethic, invited him to join in moonlighting at a small side business. And so for five years, after working his full shift at the newspapers, Ken worked a second full-time job inserting advertisements into local magazines, then labelling, cording and bundling the magazines for delivery.
When his co-worker retired, Ken bought the business from him — and formed Mail-O-Matic. It was 1967, he was 29, and he was the only employee. As an owner of one of the few letter shops in the Lower Mainland, he knew the value and growth potential of Mail-O-Matic. He strove to be innovative, mechanizing the mail processes, while maintaining the kind of personal contact with clients he knew would ensure that their needs were being met.
Over the course of four decades, his faith and dedication were vindicated. Mail-O-Matic now employs 50 people serving clients throughout Canada and the U.S..
Ken was passionate about every aspect of the business, from being on-site during construction of the new building to helping employees run the machines. For years he refused to take a vacation, instead coming to work every day to make sure Mail-O-Matic was running at its highest efficiency. When Ken finally did take vacations, usually in Palm Springs where he could golf, he would call the office daily to see if his assistance was needed with anything. On his return from Palm Springs, after driving two or three days, he would always drive directly to the office to check in even before going home. In later years he even installed a video camera system in the shop to enable remote monitoring while he was away.
But the most endearing and enduring part of Ken’s personality was his ability to inspire people. He had a clear idea of how the company could continue to succeed and made a point of surrounding himself with hard working, dedicated employees who shared his vision.
He expected everyone to do their best for the company – but he did it without ever getting angry or demeaning to anyone. He recognized that his employees’ hard work was the main reason for the company’s success, and in return, he worked hard to make sure they were happy and secure in their jobs.
His devotion to his company and his employees continued right up to the day of his passing. While he had every opportunity to stop working, he continued to come to the office every workday. He did this not for himself, but because he knew that the livelihood of many people depended on the success of Mail-O-Matic and was determined to keep the business going strong to support his employees.
For more than four decades, that’s exactly what he did. That is Ken’s legacy. And we promise to carry it on.