Material handling pioneer and leader Donald “Don” Frazier of Frazier Industrial Company passed away on December 13, 2017, at the age of 93.
Don gained his first experience in the material handling world while working at the Material Handling Laboratories in Boston, MA. It was through his early work for “Modern Material Handling” magazine and attendance at industry events that shaped his passion for material handling. After three and a half years with Material Handling Laboratories, he decided to start Frazier Industrial Company in July 1946.
The transition from pallets and unit loads at the Material Handling Laboratories to racking systems was a natural progression, according to John Nofsinger, the retired CEO of MHI, quoted by Bob Trebilcock:
Nofsinger described him as a member of that post World War II generation, like Cahners, who began to apply the concepts of load unitization, palletization and materials movement into the commercial realm. That was step one. Don’s vision, according to Nofsinger, “was now that you have a stabilized unit load, there are some clever ways to organize, store and move those loads.”
The company was a small material handling equipment operation and, by the mid-1950’s, Don achieved the first Frazier patent, a break-formed metal rack connector. The company remained a “one-man shop” where rack components were built at a contract fabricator and later erected on nights and weekends. Shortly thereafter, Don married Gretchen, his longtime sweetheart, who was instrumental in promoting Frazier and creating a solid brand. The two were happily married for over 58 years and had three children during this time.
Don was a voracious reader and felt strongly that “education is not a station at which you stop”. He continued to be active across industry associations and became President of the New Jersey Chapter of American Material Handling Society (AMHS) as well as a member of the newly formed Rack Manufacturers Institute (RMI).
Frazier Industrial Company continued to grow organically into a national organization. After graduating from the Newark College of Engineering in 1964, Bill Mascharka joined Frazier. Bill had worked with Don at Frazier even earlier, helping after school and on weekends. By 1975, Don decided to turn over the company to Bill while Don continued as Chairman of the Board.
By 1985, Don served as the MHI Chairman and an emeritus member of the MHI Roundtable Advisory Committee. He was awarded the Material Handling Education Foundation, Inc. (MHEFI) Reed-Apple Award in 1997 in recognition of his lifetime achievement in, and his extraordinary dedication to, the material handling industry. In 2009, the Don Frazier Material Handling Technical Training Center was dedicated as a fully functioning material handling laboratory educational program for high school, technical and community college students. Carlos Oliver, President of Frazier Industrial says, “Don’s place in the market is legendary due to participating in every trade show while alive. Everyone in the Industry knew Don. There was no better storyteller and teacher in the industry. His tutorials have become an industry standard”.
By the turn of the century, Frazier Industrial Company had expanded across the United States and into Canada and Mexico. Today, Frazier remains fully dedicated to its customers, their changing needs and continues as an agile organization. Frazier is considered “#1 in Rack”. Bill Mascharka, CEO commented; ‘his genuine passion for the industry and learning continues to beat within Frazier and across the industry. We are proud of our founding force, Don Frazier.” His legacy continues through Educational activity [visit www.mhi.org/mhefi] while his spirit shines with anyone who had the good fortune and opportunity to cross paths with Don along his amazing journey.