For David, DaWayne and Devon Stos, Working Together Has Been a Lifelong Experience

By Topic

Ask David, DaWayne and Devon Stos and they’ll tell you: never could they have imagined that they would be working together at JM.

The father-and-sons trio who work at the JM plant in McPherson, Kansas, said they were surprised to end up employed by the same company, though working together wasn’t new to them.

David, a cold end process technician, has been with JM for 30 years. During that time, he has also run a side business, installing flooring, with which both DaWayne and Devon have assisted.

“I have been a gifted father having both my sons work alongside me all their lives,” David said. “Even on our days off, we are usually together.” He added, “Working alongside my sons is what a father would call interesting.  When you actually get to work with them daily, I get to see their strong points and their weaknesses and how some of the things they learned from me are both good and bad.”

But David never expected his sons would become JMers. “Devon, my younger son, wanted to be a junk yard dealer, don’t ask me why. DaWayne was bound to be a businessman.”

“Surprised is the word I’d use,” David said when asked how he reacted when each of his sons decided to join him in employment at JM. “In the beginning of adulthood, they both had expectations of doing things other than shift work. In time and with the advancement I received from JM, they realized it was a great place to work.”

DaWayne, a two-time JM college scholarship recipient, said he had that realization only after going to college and working elsewhere.

“When I applied for the JM scholarship, I wrote in my essay that I was going to college so that I didn’t end up working shift work like my father was. I quickly learned never say never.”

He added, “Growing up, it felt like my dad missed a number of activities because he had to work shift work, so I always told him I never wanted to work (at JM). After working for another company for eight months straight out of college, I had to bite the bullet and go to work for JM.”

Now a physical distribution manager, DaWayne has been with JM for 15 years.

“After the first six months of employment with JM I had made the decision to go back to college to study being an X-ray technician.  Just before I was about to enroll in college, a safety position came open that had daylight hours. I decided to give this opportunity a chance prior to leaving JM and well the rest is history,” he said.

He said working alongside his father and brother at JM came naturally after years in the family business – aided by a strong bond the trio shares.

“My brother and I have a very close relationship with my dad, making it easy to work with the two of them. All in all, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  My favorite thing to say to visitors at the plant is that my brother and my father both work for the company,” he said.

Devon, too, says he relishes the unique experience of working together with both his brother and his father.

A JMer for nearly seven years, Devon is a senior inspector packer on the floor, a backup pack lead and backup machine chief.

“It’s stressful, rewarding and fun,” he said, of working with his family, adding that they bring with them a healthy sense of competition and dedication to quality work, honed at the family business.

“My brother and I always wanted to prove to our dad that we could lay floor just as good as he could if not better,” he said, adding, “That translated over to Manville with those expectations of being able to do things to the best of our ability and hard work and not quitting ‘til the job was done.”

Devon said his work at JM is well suited for him as someone who “always loved working on stuff with my hands getting dirty and taking things apart and putting them back together.”

He, too, resisted the shift work that came with employment at JM, but his feelings changed as he got older.

“With age comes wisdom,” Devon said, adding that like his brother, had a change of heart. “I never wanted to work the swing shift after seeing how much my dad and brother missed events and sporting events. But I also saw how much JM provided for my family.”

He added, “Everything I had as kid came from this place, from the vacation we were able to take as kids and the things it provided us.  (It was) the same for my brother’s family, so I wanted the same for my family and bit the bullet and applied at JM.”

David said he feels immense pride in watching his sons evolve and advance in their careers at JM.

“There are no words that can express my pride. I have had the pleasure of watching my sons progress through JM taking on many roles. To actually be a true part of that is amazing,” he said.

He continued, “What is also astounding is the impression JM has had on us as a whole. We have changed the way we do many things because of the safety mindset JM expects of its employees and we carry that home with us.”

That said, the trio tries hard not to talk shop when away from work.

“Working with family members has its pluses and minuses,” DaWayne said. “You know so much about each other and how they like to operate that it takes no time at all to start projects together, but the downside is that sometimes work never stops. We try our best to make sure work is never discussed during family events, but that’s a lot easier said than done.”