Ralph Korte, founder and chairman of the renowned Highland construction firm The Korte Co., once said of Gayle Frey, “He always does things the correct way and first class.”
Frey was born and raised in Highland, graduating from Highland High School in 1991. While in high school, he learned the value of hard work helping to milk cows with his cousin on their grandpa’s farm.
Frey began his career in real estate working at Terra Properties, where Korte became a mentor.
“From the lessons he learned from Ralph, and his experiences there, he started his own real estate company with the help of friends and family,” said Ryan Goodwin of First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust, who presented Frey with the Highland Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year award during the chamber’s annual Membership Dinner and Awards Night on Tuesday.
Frey owns and operates Frey Properties of Highland, which is a property management company, with many residential and commercial properties in Highland and the metro St. Louis area.
“Frey Properties has been in business for over 20 years, and as a testament to Gayle, he has several employees that have been with him for over 15 years,” Goodwin said.
The historic Kinne building, on the north side of the downtown Square, was one of Frey’s major rehabilitation projects in Highland.
“This was a first-class job of restoration. He has always made the town a better place and cares about giving back to Highland,” Goodwin quoted Ralph Korte as saying of the project.
Recently, Frey purchased another property on the Square, the Hellige building at Washington and Broadway, which he is currently renovating. The building has already drawn one new tenant, The Chocolate Affair, and Frey is working on others.
Frey said he was both surprised and humbled by the honor which the chamber bestowed upon him.
“It was a total surprise to me. I wasn’t expecting it,” Frey said. “But everyone here knows how proud I am of Highland and what a great community it is. It has been a wonderful place to live and work. The community members, and the business people, the police and the city administrators in this town really make it a special place, and I am so proud to be here for 22 years in business, and hopefully, another 22 years.”
In addition to his business, Frey also serves as a member of the Highland Chamber’s Building Committee and as a board member for the Madison County Child Advocacy Center. He has also been a big supporter of Korte Recreation Center, HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital and many other worthwhile causes in Highland.
He and his wife, Kristin, are the proud parents of three young children.
“I don’t know what to say, except that we have a wonderful community, and it’s all of us here that make it that way. It’s not just me or any other one person. It is all of us together,” Frey said. “You can take everyone in here, and every one has made a contribution, and that’s really awesome.”