Furey family celebrating 75 years in the auto industry

MALVERN – The love of automobiles continues with the third generation of a local family.

Frey Motors, 1985. Louis Furey is shown on the far left and Clarence Laubacher on the far right.

Frey Motors, 1985. Louis Furey is shown on the far left and Clarence Laubacher on the far right.

For the past 75 years, the village of Malvern has been home to automotive service facilities owned and operated by members of the Furey family. Louis Furey learned the automotive service business working at Abe Loudon’s Ford Garage in Hanoverton and came to Malvern in 1934 to work as a mechanic at Kibler Chevrolet on E. Porter St.

Louis was working there when Curt Taylor bought the business in 1936 and changed the name to Taylor Chevrolet & Oldsmobile. Louis eventually became service manager and a loyal General Motors customer. With payments of $18.75 per month, he was able to purchase a new 1936 Chevrolet. A few years later he bought a new 1940 Chevrolet Special Deluxe sedan, which is still owned by the family.

OWNERSHIP

At the beginning of World War II when automobile production stopped and there were no new cars to sell, Louis purchased the supplies and equipment from Taylor and founded the new Furey Motor Service March 15, 1942. In July of 1944, he borrowed money and purchased the garage building, which he previously rented.

The business was mostly repairing cars and trucks. To ensure a well-equipped service garage, he added wheel alignment and balancing and frame-straightening equipment. This, plus collision repair and painting, AAA service and 24-hour towing, provided Malvern with a complete automotive service facility. Starting in 1947 when Furey Motors became a member, the AAA towing business brought in additional repair work, but also many late-night and weekend phone calls to respond to traffic accidents or breakdowns. Most evenings were spent reading repair manuals and trade magazines.

Used car sales were added to the service work and Furey Motors signed on as a dealer for the new Kaiser and Frazer cars, which became available to the public in 1947. These were the first totally new post-war U.S. autos at a time when the major Detroit auto companies were continuing their pre-war styles with only slight changes. Later, Willys Jeeps and Studebaker cars were added to the business.

The opportunity provided to Louis by Albert Loudon, namely learning on-the-job how to perform automotive service, was extended to dozens of men over the years at Furey Motors. Some of them went on to start their own service businesses and others moved to different careers in other towns and states. Two of Louis’ brothers, Art and Al, worked for the business at various times. While many workers came and went, the stability and continuity to keep the business going were provided by Louis and by Clarence Laubacher, who started working for Kibler Chevrolet in 1935 and stayed at Furey Motors until his retirement 45 years later.

FAMILY AFFAIR

As each of the five boys in Louis’ family grew up, they learned the business, first by sweeping and washing, later by helping someone else with the repair work and towing, and eventually by being responsible for more complex mechanical and bodywork jobs themselves. Four of the five found their lifelong career in some facet of the automotive business and they all gained a fascination with mechanical things, how they work and how they are repaired.

After earning undergraduate and graduate chemistry degrees at Kent State, Robert joined the General Motors research laboratories where he studied the effects of fuel composition and additives on vehicle emissions, performance and durability. Donald joined Eastman Kodak Co., but continued to work on cars in his spare time and has completed several vehicle restoration projects. Charles and Tom have been working full time at Furey Motors, with Tom eventually taking over ownership of the original auto repair business when Louis retired. The building has been expanded and updated over the years to provide additional capabilities, especially for maintenance services which Tom provided for Malvern’s school buses for many years.

In 1967, Kawasaki motorcycles were added to the products sold at Furey Motors. After completing his degree in business marketing at Kent State, John chose to start his career in the motorcycle business and, in 1974, a new building was constructed at Carrollton St. and SR 43 to house this activity. In 1980, another building was added on the opposite side of Carrollton St., to provide additional service capacity for cars and trucks. It was opened as a Firestone Tire and Auto Center, which then became the service department for the Dodge franchise, which John acquired in 1981. A new service department was later attached to the sales building and the one on the west side of Carrollton St. was razed to make room for a Family Dollar store.

Seventy-five years after their father started his firm, Tom, John, and Charles Furey are still providing automotive service to Malvern area residents and the automotive business is now extending into the third generation of the family.

John’s son, Keaton, is a salesman at Furey Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Malvern and Donald’s son, John E. Furey, is the collision shop manager for West Herr Ford in Rochester, NY.

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