Donald N. Frey (born 1923, St. Louis, Missouri in United States) is an innovator in manufacturing and information systems. He is best known as a Ford Motor Company product manager where he supervised the development of the Mustang car in a record 18 months.
Frey grew up in Iowa, receiving his diploma from Bethel High School. In 1940, he began engineering school at Michigan State College. During World War II Frey served as an officer in the United States Army (1942-1946), returning to his studies after the war, this time at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He completed a BS in MTL (1947), MSE (1949), and a Ph.D. in Metallurgical Engineering (1951). During his doctoral studies he was an Assistant Professor.
Frey started working for Ford in 1950 and was appointed Vice-President and Chief Engineer in 1964. He was responsible for many projects at the company as well as industrial innovations, including the prototype styling of the Ford Mustang. He was then placed in charge of the development of the production version of the car. He was later involved in the development of the Ford Bronco.
In 1967, he received an honorary Doctorate in Engineering from the University of Michigan. He was very concerned that the U.S. was losing the "global race" because there is little interest in investments for innovation and thus an increasing "gap".
He resigned from Ford in 1968 to become president of General Cable. Environmental issues became Frey's focus, leading him to establish new copper recycling methods. In 1971, he was appointed chairman and CEO of Bell & Howell. He was also made a board of directors member at 20th Century Fox. He helped bring about the first high-volume integrated manufacture of video cassettes for the movie industry. He was also instrumental in promoting the first successful CD-ROM based information system, designed for General Motors dealer service.
Frey retired from industry in 1988.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Stonewater Control Systems.