Nancy Frey Retires After 24 Years at American Frame


She planned on working at American Frame for only two years.
But Nancy Frey ended up staying for 24 years.
And in January 2020, she retired from American Frame.

Back in 1996, the Cleveland native and University of Toledo graduate already had a rewarding career counseling juvenile court kids, rape victims and the families of alcoholics and drug addicts, and served as director of substance abuse prevention for the city of Maumee, Ohio. But 18 years of day, evening and weekend hours, middle-of-the-night phone calls and trips to the hospital to provide support, guidance, or just a hand to hold had taken a toll.
She needed a break.

"I wanted a normal job with regular hours," Nancy says. She needed two years to recharge and refresh,  then she’d return to her counseling career. Or so she thought.

On her first day, she knew American Frame was different.​

"Ron Mickel, the founder of the company" – and father of current American Frame co-owners Laura Jajko and Dana Dunbar – "came to the plant floor to personally welcome​​ me," Nancy remembers. "I thought, 'Wow, this place is different and interesting.’”

As a beginner in the six-person packaging department, Nancy cut​ mats, mounting board and plexiglass and packed shipping boxes, all by hand. Today, the department has 16 employees who are significantly more productive thanks to precision-cutting machines, pneumatic stapling guns, and automatic banding machines. When Nancy started at American Frame, customer orders were taken over the phone and from mail order forms, then entered manually by office staff. Today, everything happening at American Frame, from photo printing and framing to custom picture frames, is digital.

Two years went by. Nancy was ready to return to her counseling career when the packaging department's supervisor position – vitally important in American Frame's delivery of exceptional and timely customer service – opened up. "My kids said I'd be perfect for this position," Nancy recalls with a smile, "because I'm good at bossing people around."

She got the job.

"The best part of being a supervisor," according to Nancy, "was being able to institute procedures that make doing the job more efficient, and hopefully enhancing employee satisfaction. And, I valued the one-on-one relationships with co-workers and encouraging their ideas."

"American Frame is a great place to work. Full of great people, a relaxed atmosphere where employees are understood and respected, there's flexibility with time off, and there's lots of mutual trust. The owners are always looking for new ways to grow and offer customers new and better services."

In retirement, Nancy plans to spend more time visiting her five children – four daughters and a son – and 14 grandchildren in Portland, Oregon, Kansas City, Columbus and Maumee.

She'll also read. "I love historic novels. Right now, I'm reading a lot of Jacqueline Winspear, a British writer who writes the Maisie Dobbs mysteries."

Nancy also plans to spend more time gardening, and teaching the craft to her granddaughter. "She lives right across the street so I'm preparing her to take over for me."
Nancy and her husband Frank – also retired, after a career as a defense attorney, court clerk and acting judge in Maumee – have no plans to move. "But maybe one day, we'll get tired of heating a five-bedroom house."
Congratulations and thank you, Nancy, for your great and important contributions to American Frame.