“Heads we go, tails we stay.” So said Charlie Frias to his wife Phyllis in 1958. It was tails, so the Friases stayed in Las Vegas. Phyllis recalls Charlie saying “I can see a great future here.” He was right.
Charlie and Phyllis FriasCharlie Frias had a reputation for his straight forward and honest approach to life and to business, and it was this approach that helped him build one of Nevada’s most successful and largest transportation companies. Today, Frias Transportation Management includes five cab companies with a fleet of over 740 cars and a limousine company that service the Las Vegas and surrounding areas in Southern Nevada.
While the Frias name is well known today in the transportation sector of Nevada, that was not the case 45 years ago when Charlie saw the opportunity to put his entrepreneurial spirit into action with the purchase of the ABC Union Cab Company’s fleet of 5 cabs.
After serving in the Navy in World War II, Charlie returned to his hometown of San Antonio, Texas and married his wife Phyllis. In 1958, during a visit to Las Vegas. The couple decided to stay on that flip of a coin. Charlie worked as a civilian employee at Nellis Air Force Base until he saw a better opportunity working as a cab driver for the ABC Union Cab Company. It wasn’t long thereafter, in 1962, when Charlie decided that he could put his experience as a driver to better use as an owner and operator of the company and made his offer to buy it. This decision would change the course of his life and help to define the transportation industry in Southern Nevada.
From the time of the sale, Charlie worked tirelessly on expanding his cab business with the subsequent purchases of Ace Cab, Vegas-Western Cab and A-North Las Vegas Cab companies and later founding Virgin Valley Cab. In 1975, he entered the growing luxury transportation market by establishing Las Vegas Limousines to meet the demand created by the increasing number of mega-resorts being built in Las Vegas. Maintaining his down to earth style throughout his career, Charlie became an adamant advocate for the taxicab industry and the protection of his drivers’ livelihood through extensive involvement with the chambers of commerce in all of the cities that his companies operated in, as well as with the Taxicab Authority and the state legislature.
In addition to his interests in the transportation industry, Charlie also acquired and successfully developed three shopping centers in Nevada and Texas.
While he had a resolute work ethic and was actively involved in every aspect of his business ventures right up until his passing in the fall of 2006, Charlie’s most lasting and significant legacy is the one that he and his wife Phyllis have left on the community of Las Vegas through their humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors. Their generous contributions were always made quietly and without fanfare, but their service to the community and others was far reaching and did not go unnoticed. Education in particular was something that both Charlie and Phyllis staunchly supported and over the years established several scholarships and funded student programs. Their contributions to education in Nevada were honored by the Clark County School District who named an elementary school in their honor.
At the time of Charlie’s death, it is estimated that the Frias business interests comprised roughly 30 percent of the taxi industry in Southern Nevada. Under the guidance of Phyllis Frias and the company’s CEO, former State Senator and Clark County Commissioner Mark James, the Frias companies have continued to expand their business interests.
James, a lawyer of over 20 years experience in Nevada business took over the company in late 2006 and has worked closely with Phyllis to ensure that the future direction of the Frias companies is inline with Charlie’s belief that good business practices assist the public sector.
Prior to assuming the role as CEO for the Frias companies, James served in the Nevada Senate from 1992 through 2002 and was named Freshman Legislator of the Year by his colleagues. James was elected to the Clark County Commission in 2002 a position he held until 2004 when he decided to return to the legal profession.
Many people told Charlie he was a “lucky” guy. Charlie’s response was always “the harder you work, the luckier you get.”