Many mornings Fred Grazzini Jr. makes an eight-mile bike ride from his home in Orem to BYU campus. After arriving, he steps into his office and sips his homemade green smoothie, opens Cougar Creations and preps for the day. It is now 7:50 a.m., and BYU student employees start to file through the door as he greets them by name and asks, “How are ya today?” That is probably one reason the student employees at Cougar Creations consider him to be “the best boss in the world.”
But Grazzini is more than just a friendly face that his BYU employees see. Grazzini has sold over 1,500 of his own self-produced music albums, donated a kidney to his brother and worked for radio stations long before finding himself manager of Cougar Creations on BYU campus. Grazzini said he has found joy in his “simple” yet “good” life.
“I have one of the best jobs on campus,” Grazzini said. “With the way that my personality is and the way that the students are, we just all get along really well. We work hard and try to provide a good service, and I like to do it in kind of a fun way that isn’t too stressful for the students, me or the customers. I have become good friends with a lot of the students.”
Grazzini, born and raised in Washington state, says his personality is a “product of upbringing.”
“I am pretty laid back and easygoing,” Grazzini said.
Randy Gehring is a longtime friend and co-worker of Grazzini. Gehring is the manager at the copy center in the BYU Administration Building.
“If I was a student, I would want to work for Fred Grazzini,” Gehring said. “Fred is kind of a private guy, but he is a fun guy.”
Like Grazzini, Gehring has found joy in working with students and working for BYU.
“When I took this job I said, ‘I’m just passing on my way to Australia,'” Gehring said. “But here I am almost 39 years later.”
Jessica Stott, a junior from Bountiful majoring in elementary education, is an employee of Grazzini at Cougar Creations. She is one of seven siblings who have worked under the direction of Grazzini throughout his years as manager. Stott retold a story about a time when her basement flooded while at work and Grazzini was so willing to work with her to find a way that she could solve the problem.
“Fred really takes the time to get to know all of his employees,” Stott said. “He is a very approachable person and great to work with.”
Grazzini’s parents converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a year after he was born. He said his family was never “well-off” but that his parents always did the best they could. His father was a freelance musician. Grazzini’s father, who was also named Fred Grazzini, instilled a love for music within his son.
“My dad didn’t come from a musical family, he just got to the point where he loved music and he studied and learned it,” Grazzini said. “Not everyone in my family likes music; it is just something that comes from inside of you.”
Grazzini started writing his own music at the age of fourteen. On his lunch breaks or before heading to work, Grazzini often heads over to the Harris Fine Arts Center to write and to sing.
“Music, for me, is kind of therapeutic,” Grazzini said. “Music is a time when I can do my thing. It is a creative time for me, and I really like that time.”
LuAnn Grazzini, Grazzini’s wife, was first charmed by Grazzini’s humor and said he was a “breath of fresh air.” LuAnn expressed her gratitude for finding such a kind companion as well as one who makes her laugh.
“What you see is what you get,” LuAnn said. “He is so unique, and there is no one else like him.”
LuAnn said that Grazzini loves working with BYU students and truly likes his job as manager of Cougar Creations. She also venerated him as the “kindest person” she knows.
“He really does give people a break,” LuAnn said.
Grazzini said because of his family’s lack of money when he was young, he learned the value of work. Within two years during his time as a BYU student, Grazzini worked ten different jobs to put himself through school.
“Life hasn’t always been easy for me,” Grazzini said. “But for some reason, I have always been able to look at what I do have instead of what I don’t have.”
Grazzini is also notorious among employees for lightening situations and making his employees laugh while on the job.
“I can’t describe my sense of humor to you,” Grazzini said. “All I can say is that I am a little quirky and a little bizarre. I have had a lot of fun.”
Alden Simmons, a junior studying exercise science, is another employee at Cougar Creations. He described his experience of working with Grazzini as “enjoyable” and “not stressful.”
“He focuses mostly on our needs because he knows that we aren’t going to be here permanently,” Simmons said. “We are here as students, and he knows that our education is the most important thing. He is not focused on trying to expand this business as much as to help us. He makes sure that we do what we need to do and get done what we need to get done.”
Grazzini said his most prized possessions are the gospel of Jesus Christ and his family. To him, “that is what life really is all about.” Speaking about his life, Grazzini reflected on his family.
“We haven’t been rich or wealthy, but we have always had what we need,” Grazzini said. “It has been a good life.”
After a busy day of work, Grazzini rides back to his home leaving employees smiling and customers at Cougar Creations satisfied. Grazzini, to many, is a hero who has connected with and been influential in the lives of many who know him and work for him.