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Behind the Biz: Michael Fryman Refrigeration

This family business went from flowers to fridges.

It's hard to imagine a commercial refrigeration company began as a modest florist company on the coast. But that's exactly how Michael Fryman broke out into the biz and now, his family helps keep it running.

Michael Fryman, his wife Marla and his son Kevin proudly run their business from home out of Ramona. The family moved from Encinitas, where they started out in the florist biz, to gain spectacular views and small town perspective and have since enjoyed servicing businesses from the "heart of San Diego."

Michael Fryman Refrigeration currently services local stops, like , , , , , Arntz Dist., , , , () and . But the company expands its services to Julian and beyond without ever charging their customers for the long trip (Michael typically drives about 100-150 miles per day).

Marla handles the business accounts receivable/payable and son, Kevin, has worked alongside Michael since he was a teen and now handles all of the refrigeration for the Chipotle restaurants in San Diego County.

Patch asked Michael a little about his biz and what he thinks is the "coolest" part of it.

Patch: Why did you choose to start this business in Ramona? 

Michael Fryman: The answer is really why we chose to live in Ramona. My biz is really run from my office: my truck! So, it can be located anywhere. My wife, Marla and I wanted to move from our home in Encinitas with no elbow room or sunset views, to a more rural setting with a “small town” feel.

I never know where the calls will come from in a given day. We found that Ramona is the center–really the heart–of San Diego County. So, while still feeling far flung, Ramona is pretty centrally located for me, and was the perfect fit not only for our home needs, but my business as well.

Patch: What distinguishes your business from others in the same industry?

Fryman: I think what sets me apart from big refrigeration companies, is this: I’ve been on the other side of the need, as a local “mom and pop” business. I know the frustrations of those day to day operations. Being cost effective is important, while being accountable and delivering a quality job.

My customers are not just another corporate account. They are the guy that I go off-roading with. The cousin of the friend’s wedding we’ve attended. Our neighbors.  I started out as a florist in 1983 and I built a small kiosk on a corner in Ocean Beach and named the biz, The Flower Corner. As a new business, money was flying and we couldn’t afford to hire out the refrigeration work.  I read books on the subject every chance I could.

Soon, I had opened a dozen locations and the wholesale florists were asking me to help them fix things. Although I had my refrigerant handling certification, Marla suggested that I get my General Contractors license to start a genuine pursuit of contracting refrigeration. After 20 years, we were completely out of the flower biz, and full time into refrigeration. Back to my origins, besides integrity as a business owner, I have to remember that especially in these times, price is important. I remember those times.

Patch: Any current challenges you face as a business owner?

Fryman: Finding the time to relax... and sometimes to sleep. Just last night, I received a call at 10:30 p.m., and then at 12:30 a.m. I’m not a doctor, but have the same hours for emergencies. People must think that I have an after-hours answering service, but, when you call me, you get me. I pride myself on how quickly I can respond to my customers. 

Patch: What's the best business advice you've ever been given?

Fryman: Marla (his wife) told me to, “Go for it! You can do it!” She’s my greatest cheerleader.

Patch: Where was the coolest place (pun intended) you got to service?

Fryman: I’m a commercial refer guy. I’m not the Maytag home appliance guy.  I only service businesses such as restaurants, and bars, or commercial/industrial grade units such as walk-in wine cellars in some residential settings. 

I’ve worked from LabCorp and corporate gas stations, to the small, family run restaurants; Black Angus, and CA Dept. of Fish & Game, to the mom and pop markets and dry cleaners–you name it. Micro-breweries, laboratories, yachts, ice cream shops, wineries, cigar bar humidors.

But, the coolest place I’ve ever serviced was a test kitchen for . I’m a cookie guy, and man, they had all sorts of goodies and let me try out a few. It was like a dream!

You can reach Michael Fryman Refrigeration by calling Michael (760) 805-7461, or Kevin at (760) 815-4582.

Marla Fryman September 13, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Dear Ramona Patch, and Melissa - Thank you so much for the opportunity to tell our story. We've been in Ramona since early 2008 and love it! We finally feel like we are "home"! We are currently finishing up a fire rebuild. And, our new home was built with many local hands. We did a lot of it, but here's a shout out to Mike Orluskie Custom Lath & Plaster, who did a fine job applying the stucco to our home. And, Clint Johnston is doing a great job also on the concrete and block work. Love our local guys! We are happy to also be the "local" guy! Thanks again for sharing our story.

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