Walking the walk: Service ingrained in Les Schwab veterans

December 2012 Posted in Business, People
Jon DeBo and Virgil Hamilton retire this month.

Jon DeBo and Virgil Hamilton retire this month.

By Kristine Thomas

For 30 and 31 years respectfully, Jon DeBo and Virgil Hamilton have followed some simple rules on how to conduct themselves at work.

They operated under the professional guidelines of taking care of their customers and their fellow employees. And both men in their work and daily life carry out those principles.

The two Les Schwab employees retire Jan. 1 and leave the company grateful for the lessons they have learned.

“Les Schwab is one of the best companies to work for,”  Hamilton, 58, said. A Keizer resident, he has worked at the Silverton Les Schwab for seven years and for the company for 31 years. A Silverton resident, DeBo, 62, has worked for the company 30 years and the Silverton store for more than 17 years.

“Working at Les Schwab is more of a family atmosphere,” said DeBo, who was the store’s manager. “Les Schwab takes care of its employees and its customers. They pay fair wages, have excellent benefits and opportunities for advancement from within.”

Craig Loberg, assistant manager, said both DeBo and Hamilton are the true essence of what Les Schwab is about, working hard, working their way up in the company and earning a retirement so “they can go and play.

“Both men are phenomenal employees and men,” he said.

Both have had their share of Les Schwab moments – where they have gone the extra step to help people. They have both stayed late to help a customer who needed new tires or new brakes.

In Silverton DeBo has been active in many civic organizations including the Lion’s Club, the Chamber of Commerce and the Planning Commission.

The company also gives back to the community including supporting athletic teams and sponsoring local events such as the Homer Davenport community fesitval  and Mount Angel’s Oktoberfest.

One thing the company does extremely well, Hamilton said, is take care of its employees from retirement to health benefits.

“If it wasn’t for Les Schwab, I probably be dead,” he said. “I am a reformed alcoholic. The medical plan has helped me and my wife who needed a major surgery. This company gave me the opportunity to provide for my family and it took care of me.”

The philosophy Les Schwab started his company with has been carried on from town to town, DeBo said.

“He started a business that emphasizes relating to customers and taking care of those customers to our best ability,” DeBo said. “It’s about treating people fairly and honestly. In business, you got to be honest and you got to be involved in your community if you want to stay in business.”

Whether a customer is buying tires or new brakes, DeBo and Hamilton said their job was to educate the customer about his or her choices and let them make the decision.

“I have had customers go to other places and then come back to us because they think highly of us and know we are fair and honest,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton plans on taking care of his wife, Betty Jo, and wants to travel. He enjoys fishing and country music.
DeBo said his wife, Marcia, hasn’t retired yet, so he plans to spend his time volunteering at the Wednesday meals with the First Christian Church, continuing his work with the Lion’s Club and “getting more involved in the community.”

As the men begin retirement, they said will continue to follow the basic principles they practiced on the job.

“Life or business is all about treating people the way you want to be treated and taking care of one another,” DeBo said. “If you do that, the rest will come.”

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