Bill Friedrichs, having grown up in Sauk Centre, recognized what a great place Sauk Centre was, and returned shortly after finishing college at the University of Minnesota – Crookston.
Bill grew up with the tire business, and took it over 10 years ago with business partner Shawn Olson. The two men each purchased half of the business from their respective fathers, Jim Friedrichs and Lonney Olson. Bill’s grandfather, Cyril (Peanuts) Friedrichs, and his grandfather’s cousin, Bob Friedrichs, began Friedrichs Tire and Oil in Sauk Centre.
Owning the business was not in Bill’s plan prior to college. During internships for his programs of study, including Information Networking Management and Sport Recreation Management, he realized that he did not enjoy sitting behind a desk.
Instead, Bill prefers the physical aspect of working with heavy tractor tires and the manual labor of the tire shop. He also enjoys the customers, and the relationships built.
Besides being a business owner, Bill holds a few other titles: volunteer firefighter, baseball coach, hockey coach, as well as husband and father.
Bill married his wife, Sara (Pfenniger) in 2008. Sara teaches first grade at Albany Elementary School. They have two children, Andrew, 9, and Elizabeth, 7, who both attend Sauk Centre Elementary School. Like Bill, his kids enjoy sports, and can be found playing outside year-round.
Bill, who played baseball and hockey for Sauk Centre Public Schools and the U of M, Crookston, now uses his skills to coach kids youth baseball teams and youth hockey in Sauk Centre. The boys baseball youth league includes T-ball to minor/major leagues to Babe Ruth. Bill really enjoys seeing kids improve their skills.
Most of his spare time is spent outdoors, whether it’s playing baseball, hockey, deer hunting or fishing.
“In the summer most days there is a baseball game going on in the open lot with the neighbor kids. During the winter we have had a flooded hockey rink in the back yard to skate,” he said.
Bill continued to play amateur baseball in Sauk Centre until his children were small. He still attends a week-long baseball tournament in Arizona with a college pal, when he can get away.
Around the same time Bill became a business owner, he also joined the fire department. Bill says the main reason he became a volunteer firefighter was he enjoys helping people in need. At the time, he wanted to serve the community, and helping with the fire department felt like a good way to do this.
Bill compares the volunteer fire department team to a sports team. “Just like any of the sports I played, it takes everyone on the team to accomplish the goal. I enjoy the camaraderie of the team.” Bill estimates he goes out on roughly 75 percent of the calls that come in. Although the volume of fire calls varies, there were 130 calls in 2018.
When asked about safety concerns, Bill replies the fire chiefs are very good at safety, which is their number one priority. The team works together to get the job done, and looks out for each other.
Some of the most memorable moments on the Fire Department for Bill are not necessarily fire calls. Instead, he recalls the joy of having children visiting the fire hall, “seeing their smiles and the enjoyment of getting rides on the fire trucks and looking through the equipment.”
In 10 – 20 years from now, Bill hopes to still be doing much of the same; working as long as he can at Friedrichs Tire and Oil. Being a part of the Fire Department “until I am no longer valuable” is his goal. And likely, Bill will continue to be involved in sports, one way or another.
Congratulations to Bill Friedrichs, September 2019 Person with a Passion.