Artie LaFres: Local Boy Makes Good - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Originally published in the September 1998 Juniper Berry Magazine

Artie LaFres: Local Boy Makes Good

Artie (right) with his brother Dominick (left) and Uncle Nick (center) circa 1940.

Continuing a local success story that started in l957, La Fres Ford, one of the city's most successful car dealerships, has expanded their service area.

The volume of cars, trucks and taxi cabs has made it necessary to open a new facility on Metropolitan Avenue off Flushing Avenue in Maspeth. The new building at 49-21 Metropolitan Avenue is state of the art with the most modern equipment available. LaFres Ford can now handle customer needs whether it be service, leasing, rental, cars, trucks or cabs at the new location.

You will recall that Artie LaFres is a local boy who made good. I have decided to let Artie tell you in his own words a brief history of his family and how he got to this point in time. It is a story that is heartening to read because it shows the amount of work and raw dedication it takes to become, what looks like to some people, "lucky."

I attended PS 68 and Grover Cleveland High School. I was in the Army for two years and in l954 I married Louise Lefebvre.

I worked in my father's gas station from the age of l0. After getting out of the Army in l954 I went back to work with my father. In l957 I opened my own auto repair business and was very successful.

In December of l960 I was approached by a Ford representative and was asked if I ever thought about becoming a new car dealer. To make a long story short, I became a Ford dealer in June of l96l. My two brothers, Ronald and Dominic, and I opened La Fres Ford.

Our original facility was on the corner of Central Avenue and Cypress Hill Street in Glendale. We built a small showroom, kept the gas station and had our repair shop in the back of the gas station.

In l967 we purchased the property across the street and built a new sales facility that housed l00 new and used cars.

The years of l978 and l979 were very difficult. We had high interest rates and an energy crisis. Ford kept building large cars and the small foreign cars were the ones that people were buying. Losses were very substantial in l978 and l979.

In January, l980 La Fres Ford closed. I rented out my facility. For the next six years I managed my real estate business and sold a car only occasionally.

In l986 I decided to become a Ford dealer again so I called Ford Motor Company and spoke to the District Manager. By April of l986 I had my franchise back and I relocated the tenant occupying my building. I made some renovations to the building and when I got back in the business I felt as though I had never left.

My father passed away in January, l963 but he always said, 'Be fair and honest with people and always pay your obligations.' This was so true because if I hadn't done so along the way, I would have never gotten my Ford franchise back. Ford said that they had never given a franchise back to any dealer who was located in the same location.

In l988 I relocated my showroom to Fresh Pond Road between Metropolitan Avenue and Eliot Avenue. Our sales kept increasing every year and today we are one of the largest Ford dealers in the New York district.

In September of l994 I hired a General Manager by the name of George Pappas. George has been a tremendous asset to La Fres Ford. He was very instrumental in the sale of New York taxi cabs. Today we are the largest taxi dealer in New York City. I was so happy with the performance of George Pappas that in April of l996 he became a partner in La Fres Ford.

That brings us to l998 and the new expansion of La Fres Ford at 49-21 Metropolitan Avenue in Maspeth.

It's a great story because it shows how you don't have to go to an Ivy League college to become successful. Artie La Fres, who is a very humble guy, should go around to our local schools and tell his story. It could no doubt inspire some neighborhood kids to reach for the gold ring and take advantage of all the great opportunities that are out there if they dare to dream. America, what a country!

We wish Artie La Fres continued success as he goes forward in his professional life.