Growing Up In Detroit: A Remembrance with Frank Venegas

Founder & Chairman of the Ideal Group, Frank Venegas, reflects on growing up in Detroit

Frank Venegas Jr. is the CEO of the Ideal Group, which is a family of companies under one umbrella, who service virtually every aspect of industry. Venegas joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today’s ‘Growing Up In Detroit’ series, where prominent Detroiters tell us how growing up in Detroit shaped the person they became as an adult.


Gatekeeper: Frank’s earliest recollection of Detroit was that of his grandfather’s job. His grandfather was a “gatekeeper,” an employee who would pick which people would work on the assembly line on any given day. “They would line up at the gate, and when the assembly line would start filling up…they would go out to the gate and say ‘you, you and you [can work]’”


Hippies: Detroit had its own version of San Francisco’s Haight/Ashbury street, according to Venegas. “It was called Plum St. It was just a walk bridge, but we used to go around there (as kids) and see what the hippies were doing.”


A Detroit Start: Venegas started his company, Ideal Group, through a bit of good fortune. He won a 1979 Cadillac Coupe deVille in a raffle by purchasing a $150 raffle ticket. “There was one ticket left in the barrel, and it was mine. So I drove it home, kept it for nine days, sold it, put it in my savings account and started Ideal.”

To hear more of this engaging conversation, please click the above audio link: