Not Ready to Hang up the Hat: JMer Celebrates 50 Years With the Company

Clifton “Catfish” Attaway doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon. The 72-year-old JMer who works in the warehouse of JM’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, celebrates 50 years with JM on March 18. He says he’s got plans for when he retires, but he hasn’t set a date just yet. 

“It’s a hard trigger to pull when you’ve been doing something (for) so long,” Catfish said. “I am going to walk away someday… I don’t want to stall, but when you’ve been doing something all your life, it’s hard.” 


Catfish enjoys working in the warehouse, loading trucks and readying shipments for transport ahead of time. He arrives half an hour early, before every shift, just to make sure everything runs smoothly. 

“If I slow down, they slow down,” he said. “I like making things easier for everybody by having things all in one spot,” he said. “It makes it easier for me and nobody has to wait.” 

JM produces polyester nonwovens at its sites in Spartanburg, SC and Berlin and Bobingen, Germany.
JM produces polyester nonwovens at its sites in Spartanburg, SC and Berlin and Bobingen, Germany.


Catfish was just 23 when he came to work for JM, where he found a home, lots of friends and benefits the likes of which he’d never seen. 

“I worked mostly in construction. When I came to work here, the pay was good, there were good benefits and I never had anything like that in any other job I had,” he said. “I thought, ‘this is something new to me,’ how they do for you and how they make you feel.”


While he was amazed by the sheer number of new coworkers he first encountered (he estimates approximately 2,000 at that point) Catfish quickly got to know fellow JMers and settled in at the plant. 

“It was more or less scary,” Catfish recalled. “I’d never been around that many people and I didn’t know how long I’d be here.” 

He started working on the production line before adding his name to the bid roster to secure a spot in the warehouse. That’s where he’s stayed for 48 years. 

“In the warehouse, you can move around more,” he said. “It’s a real good place.”

It was 1974 when Clifton “Catfish” Attaway joined JM.
It was 1974 when Clifton “Catfish” Attaway joined JM.


In his half-century at JM has seen some coworkers come and go, while many others, like himself, have put in decades with JM while raising children and becoming grandparents. (Catfish has five grandchildren.)  

“Everybody here has got some good years in,” Catfish said. “You ask them, and they’ll tell you, they wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.” 

JM “gives you all the tools you need” to build a life, raise a family and save for the future, he said, noting he’s raised three children, while saving for retirement and enjoying special vacations with his wife, Lee.  

“It’s a job you can depend on,” he said. 


The city of Spartanburg is located in northwestern South Carolina.
The city of Spartanburg is located in northwestern South Carolina.


He’s stuck with JM and JM has stuck with him, Catfish said, holding his job for five months while he battled cancer.

“The company understands, and that makes you want to work better for them,” he said.  

A self-described small-town “country boy,” Catfish grew up – and still lives on – the same plot of land where he was born, just 15 minutes away from the JM plant. 

“The only pressure I have (in life) is getting here every day – and that’s no pressure,” he said.  

Catfish said he wishes everyone in the world could be as happy as he is, with his job, wife and family – and his three Harley-Davidson motorcycles.  

“I’ve been riding all my life,” he noted. 

When it does happen, Catfish said retirement will include trips on his Harley trike with Lee, and potentially a return to Alaska, where the couple enjoyed a memorable cruise vacation – complete with a gold-panning adventure. Until then, he says he’ll continue enjoying his work at JM every day, proud of the fact he achieved something only a special few have: 50 years of work at one company. 

“I had to make my 50 years,” he said. “It’s a big deal for me.” 

This could also be of interest to you