WALLINGFORD - Frederick Christian Ulbrich Jr. (Fred), of Wallingford, beloved husband of Joanne Messina Ulbrich, passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Yale-New Haven Hospital. The Chairman of the Board and former CEO of Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals, Inc. was 83 years of age.
Fred was born on Dec. 15, 1930 to the late Ada (Cei) Ulbrich and Frederick Christian Ulbrich Sr., founder of Ulbrich Steel. As a youngster, Fred attended Holy Trinity School and was an alumnus of Lyman Hall High School and Deerfield (Mass.) Academy. Fred attended Brown University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering in 1953. He was recruited by the U.S. Army and served stateside in the Counter Intelligence Corps. In 1956, he was honorably discharged and began working at Ulbrich Steel on a full-time basis.
His early career at Ulbrich Steel started in the sales department. With his father, Fred Sr., and his younger brother, Dick, Fred immediately focused on growing the company by selling quality products that exceeded customer expectations. Faced with uncertain metal markets and a competitive arena, he approached business challenges in a direct, no-nonsense manner. He was known for forming solid relationships with suppliers, earning the trust of customers, and building a strong sales team. To complement his commercial pursuits, Fred created a strong internal business structure by introducing critical credit and marketing functions to Ulbrich Steel. With great foresight, Fred strategically established distribution centers across America to deliver products to customers at a faster rate than they were accustomed. With his keen vision, he set Ulbrich Steel on a path to expand into international markets. In 1969, Fred was named as CEO of the company he worked so hard to nurture.
Combining his strong commercial and leadership background with his brother Dick's operational expertise and savvy, over the next five decades Ulbrich Steel considerably expanded its global footprint and grew into a highly-regarded international business. During this period, Ulbrich senior management advanced an organization of talented professionals working alongside dedicated metal-working craftsmen. They cultivated an environment in which every employee was considered a valued member of the Ulbrich team. With twelve facilities worldwide, including seven domestic and five global locations, Fred helped forge an extensive and dependable supply chain. Under his direction and guidance, Ulbrich Steel grew to its present status of a world-class supplier of precision products. Fred now passes the torch to his son, Chris Ulbrich (CEO), and nephew, Jay Cei (COO). Ulbrich is one of the largest private manufacturers in Connecticut in sales.
Aside from his professional career, Fred was proactive in both global and local organizations. Fred was a valued member of the American Iron and Steel Institute, the World Business Council, the Young Presidents Organization (since 1970), and the World Presidents Organization (since 1990). He was a founding member of the Wallingford Rotary Club, the former director of the Oakdale Musical Theatre, and a charter member of the Farms Country Club. Fred was the campaign chairman of the United Way of Meriden and Wallingford, and co-chairman of the Silver Anniversary Capital Campaign of the Boys & Girls Club Wallingford Community Center, now named the Ulbrich Boys & Girls Club. He was also the co-campaign chairman of the Wallingford Family YMCA Capital Campaign. The YMCA's year-round program for child care is named Camp Ulbrich, in honor of his constant support and fund-raising efforts. Fred's community-minded philanthropic legacy will live on as he was a giant of a man when it came to helping children and those less fortunate than him.
Fred's hobbies included a wide range of interests that went far beyond manufacturing stainless steel and special metals. He loved to study geology and accumulated an impressive amount of rare geodes. Fred greatly appreciated the fine arts and was a distinguished collector of Salvador Dali lithographs. He was also known by his friends and family as a talented pianist, especially in the genres of jazz, blues, and ragtime. He played piano with his brother, Dick, and his close friends in a Dixieland band named Jack's Cat's, who performed around Connecticut on a regular basis. Fred also enjoyed the outdoors, fishing, and golfing with his friends and family.
As a generous family man and advocate for the American Dream, Fred understood the importance of all peoples - to him, everyone counted. Fred made people, especially Ulbrich employees, feel welcome and united in a common cause. He was a humble man who deeply sympathized with the hardships of others. He was charismatic, down-to-earth and elicited smiles and laughter through the sharing of his life experiences. With vivid detail and personal anecdotes, his unforgettable stories helped to create bonds that formed meaningful relationships and built lifelong trust. Ulbrich employees loved Fred because of his heartfelt style, his genuine care for all individuals and his steadfast leadership. Many people wished he ran for office so everyone would benefit from his leadership.
Fred is predeceased by his former wife Marie-Therese Ostin; Fred's aunt May Ulbrich Warzocha; brothers, Daniel Ulbrich; Richard (Dick) J. Ulbrich; and son, Robert A. Ulbrich. Fred is survived by his wife, Joanne Messina Ulbrich; sons, Frederick (Chris) Christian Ulbrich III; and Chris's mother and Fred's first wife, Allene Rushworth Rhone; Derek and his wife, Alicia Ulbrich; and Jason and his wife, Marie Ulbrich; as well as Richard, Stephen, and Gregory Messina; fourteen grandchildren, Susan; Jonathan and his wife, Liliana; Mark; Weston; Jenna; Ryan; Abigail; James; Logan; Jason; Ashley; and Katelyn Ulbrich; Benjamin Messina; Erin Rourke; and four great-grandchildren, Sierrah Mallock; Hunter Cupertino; Ana Sofia; and Max Ulbrich.
The Ulbrich family will receive relatives and friends at The Wallingford Funeral Home, 809 N. Main St. Ext., Wallingford, on Tuesday, April 15, from noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Wednesday at 10 a.m. directly at Most Holy Trinity Church, 84 North Colony St., Wallingford. Interment with military honors will be in St. John Cemetery in Wallingford. In lieu of flowers, gifts in his memory may be sent to The Community Foundation of Central CT, 35 Pleasant Street, Suite 1E, Meriden, CT 06450; http://www.communityfoundationcc.org, under "The Fred Ulbrich Memorial Fund." The funds will be used for children's needs in the Meriden-Wallingford community, managed by the foundation and Ulbrich family.
Wallingford Funeral Home
809 North Main Street Ext. Wallingford, CT 06492
Published in The Record-Journal on Apr. 13, 2014