“We have the best team, and this isn’t about one person; it’s about the team,” Zessinger says.
The Fry story starts back in the 18th century when the company founder, Mandel Fry, immigrated to the United States in 1878. Mandel and his family eventually settled in St. Louis. From there, he embarked on a series of business ventures in his early adulthood that included a hotdog concession stand at the 1904 World’s Fair, window replacement services, and eventually furniture and stove repairs. It’s the latter service arena – furniture – that interested him, and he soon partnered with Bob Wagner to open his first moving and storage company in 1908.
“We lament our losses longer than we celebrate our victories,” Zessinger says. “We learn and grow and continually try to get better to make a great customer experience.”
Fry-Wagner is currently United Van Lines’ largest account and has branched out to storage facilities in various locations that hold anything from a family’s possessions to top designers’ items getting ready to be displayed in store fronts in NYC.
“We offer a diversity of services, and I think that moving outside of the traditional moving company mind-set has helped us to expand into different markets,” Zessinger says.
One new service in the St. Louis area has been senior moves, which helps mature adults to relocate to senior living communities while being sensitive to the nature of those moves.
The Fry family is still a fixture at Fry-Wagner and is dedicated to giving back to the community. They don’t advertise their charitable contributions, but whenever disaster strikes, their trucks can be seen delivering blankets and other items of comfort to those in need.
“Having employees who enjoy their workplace ensures good customer service,” Zessinger said. “We have one chance to get it right and make the customer happy. Our employees have to buy into the mission to get the customer and keep the customer happy.” The company is devoted to promoting from within and making sure their employees are taken care of, and they attribute that to their booming success in the last few years.
Due to the nature of the business, Missouri serves as a great central location for Fry Wagner to do business around the United States and they have offices in Columbia, Kansas City, Springfield and Southern Illinois.
“The Fry family loves this community and has a commitment to giving back,” says Sue Pyles, director of service quality and marketing. “There’s no way they will take this company out of Missouri. This is our home.”
“This award is right up there at the top,” Zessinger says. “We’ve won lots of awards but being named a great place to work and then being named one of the fastest growing companies is the best. We are very proud and this is a testament to the staff and people we work with. Winning means bonuses and perks and raises – reinvesting in our staff. Our people are incredibly talented and deserve to be taken care of. But we’re just warming up, the best is yet to come.”