Rod Frahm talks about the onion packing business last week at his farm near Nyssa. Rod and wife Launa co-own Frahm Fresh Produce and were named the Nyssa Chamber of Commerce's business of the year. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

NYSSA – They ship 300 semi-trailer truckloads of onions a year and employ nearly 20 people but when Frahm Fresh Produce was named Nyssa’s business of the year, it was a surprise to Launa Frahm.

“We were pleased to see the support from the community,” said Launa Frahm.

Launa and her husband Rod – both born and raised in Malheur County - also own the A&W Restaurant in Nyssa. Both Frahm Fresh Produce and the A&W were honored as business of the year at the Nyssa Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture’s recent awards banquet.

The Frahms raised five children – three boys and two girls – while putting together a successful onion-packing business.

Launa, 63, said she is proud of Frahm Fresh Produce because the operation represents how important small businesses are.

“I think small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S.,” said Launa Frahm.

The Frahms have been a farming clan in the county since the 1920s. Launa attended school in Nyssa while Rod went to school in Ontario, and they met at a church function. They married in 1976 and set to work building their packing business.

“We are on the bottom edge (in terms of size) of the businesses in this area and we are not as automated as others,” said Launa.

About three years ago, the Frahms began to look into owning a franchise. That led them to Brad Burningham, then owner of the Nyssa A&W, with questions about his business.

Launa and Rod Frahm also bought the A&W restaurant in Nyssa a few years back. The Nyssa Chamber of Commerce selected both Frahm Fresh Produce and the A&W as its business of the year recently. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

Burningham asked the Frahms if they were interested in buying the A&W. They pondered the move, and then told him yes.

“We thought it would be good to keep it in the community,” said Launa and Rod’s son Trevor Frahm.

Trevor, who also helps his parents at the packing shed, said buying the A&W was part of a larger plan to diversify.

‘“It was another opportunity to invest into something different than just ag,” said Trevor.

He also said owning the A&W was also a good way to give back to the community. Trevor splits his time between the packing facility and the A&W, and his wife, Krista, also helps out at the fast-food restaurant.

Trevor is pleased the chamber also selected the A&W for accolades, but he said the credit really goes to the restaurant’s manager, Jolie Stowe.

“She is the one should feel fantastic about it,” he said.

Stowe said chamber honors, in many ways, validates the hard work she and her team put into the restaurant.

“For my second year as manager to be business of the year is incredible,” she said.

A&W’s success is rooted in its patrons and the Frahms, she said.

 “Every customer will be treated with respect from first to last. None of this, though, would be possible without the Frahms. They purchased new refrigerator units, anything and everything that needed replaced they did,” she said, calling the Frahms “amazing and good people.”

“They are the type of people who don’t want to be mentioned,” she said. Stowe, who worked at Internet TruckStop in New Plymouth and McDonald’s in Ontario before the Nyssa job, said she strives to make the A&W a place to “bring old and young together.”

“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said.

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