The auto parts manufacturer Linamar is Guelph’s biggest private employer, and according to legend, it all started in the basement of Frank Hasenfratz with a one-man machine shop in 1964. On Saturday night, it was announced that Hasenfratz, still the executive chairman of the company he started almost 60 years ago, had passed away.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of my father, Frank Hasenfratz,” said Linda Hasenfratz, Frank’s daughter and now the CEO of his company in a statement.
“It was his vision and unrelenting drive that enabled us to build the company that Linamar is today. He leaves a tremendous legacy on the Canadian business landscape, changed the lives of so many, and provided careers, livelihoods and opportunities for thousands of people,” Hasenfratz added. “He inspired and taught so many, myself most profoundly, and his spirit will live on in each of us as we continue to build the legacy of Linamar.”
Hasenfratz was born in Hungary in 1935, but he immigrated to Canada in 1957 following the Hungarian Revolution. He landed in Quebec City, and before founding his own company he put himself through trade and engineering schools as a toolmaker. In 1966, he settled in Guelph’s north end, and the Royal City not only became his home, but the home of the burgeoning company that would become a world leader in the making of car parts, and it’s still based right here in Guelph.
The company was named after Frank’s daughters Linda and Nancy, and his wife Margaret.
Along with his business accomplishments, Hasenfratz was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2014 for “his contributions to Canada’s manufacturing industry and for his philanthropic initiatives”
“Huge loss for the community. Thankful to have met Mr. Hasenfratz several times where he’d talk about how proud he was of the employees at his factories in #Guelph along with giving back to our city on numerous occasions, especially to our hospital,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie in a statement on social media. “Our condolences to the family.”
“Sorry to hear about your loss. I hope Frank’s family and the Linamar team find comfort in fond memories of time with Frank and his many accomplishments that continue to benefit our community,” added Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner in his own post.
Frank Hasenfratz was 86 years old, and was pre-deceased by his wife, but he is survived by his daughter and successor Linda and son-in-law Ed and their four children, as well as daughter Nancy and son-in-law Mark. Funeral arrangements will be announced in the days to come.