35 • President/Vice President • Jeffrey Automotive Group, Roseville/Tamaroff Motors and Capture Automotive, Southfield • Employees: 185 • Revenue: $125M • College: Michigan State University
Eric Frehsée, president of the Jeffrey Automotive Group in Roseville and vice president of Tamaroff Motors in Southfield, had an inside track to upper management at the dealership organization founded by his grandfather. But he chose the more difficult road.
He started working at the Jeffrey maintenance department when he was 14, pulling weeds, painting curbs, and cleaning bathrooms. In high school and college, he was a service porter, an oil changer, a service writer, and a car salesman.
“My dad was a very strict product of Eastern European Holocaust survivors who came to this country as immigrants with $7 in their pocket,” Frehsée says. “He grew up working very hard for everything he had, and he wanted me to grow up the same way. The most valuable thing he taught me was to be successful on my own. It makes you appreciate things more, as well.”
Today, Frehsée owns the dealership in Roseville, which sells Acura, Honda, Nissan, and Kia, and is part owner of the dealership in Southfield, which sells Honda and Nissan.
He’s also vice president of Capture Automotive in Southfield, which acquires and delivers competitive vehicles for automakers for benchmarking purposes. Ever since he’s been in the business, Frehsée says he’s often the youngest person in the room at national dealer meetings.
“That gave me the courage and the confidence to know I would be successful,” he says. “I would sit in these meetings with my uncle and dealers who were twice my age, and when the subjects of digital and advertising and transparency came up, they would laugh about it, but I was thinking, ‘This is the future and they don’t see it.’
“I decided to go against the grain and embrace the future,” he says.