This year -- 2013 -- marks the 50th anniversary of D&S's move to the strip mall that Howard Stinnette and Al Roth created in 1963 in the 800 block of West C Street.
Formerly squeezed into a series of spaces on East B Street (where AmPride now stands), D&S's owners took a bold move forward a half-century ago when they built the 8,500 square foot building on West C, fronting it with a spacious parking lot for customers.
There will be a series of special golden anniversary events -- planned during the final months of this year -- but D&S's current owner, Steve Roth, and managers, Marilyn Roth and Rod Fox, want their customers to know that the firm's biggest way of celebrating will be to keep doing what D&S has been doing throughout its history.
"Service! Service! Service!," Marilyn said. "That's what we do. That's what we are known for."
It all started back in 1945 when Howard Stinnette came down from Wauneta and joined Jim Decker to form the original D&S. Howard and Jim were hard workers, dedicated to good service, and they immediately established themselves as trustworthy merchants. Mr. Decker, the father of the retired Benkelman postmaster, also named Jim Decker, died in 1952.
As the years passed, one of D&S's loyal employees, Al Roth, took on an increasing leadership role. Al, renowned because of his 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. work days, became the managing owner when Mr. Stinnette retired. Tragically, Al Roth died of a heart attack at age 51 in 1980.
Al was succeeded as manager, and later as owner, by his oldest son, Steve.
Steve remains the owner today, but he's quick to say that the people most responsible for D&S's continuing success and superior service record are the store's managers, Marilyn Roth, who is Steve's wife, and Rod Fox, along with the store's dedicated staff of 13 shop, sales and service employees. Steve also expressed gratitude to LeeAnn Roth, Bob Woodruff, and AmFirst Bank for their key roles in the D&S development.
"When all of our years of service are combined, the D&S staff has a combined total of 153 years of employment," Steve said.
The staff members and their years of service include: Steve Roth, 40 years; Marilyn Roth, 20 years; Rod Fox, 20 years; Gene (Geno) Weir, 15 years; Kari (The Little General) Weir, 15 years; Terry (Tag) Groshong, 11 years; Tim Rodarmel, 10 years; Dawn Record, 8 years; Blair Brown, 4 years; Kyle Groshong, 3 years; Dick Winters, 2 years; Donna Stone, 2 years; Zac Curl, 2 years; Jeff Leibrandt, 1 year; and Sheldon Martin and Nick Hughes, new this year.
"We service everything we sell. We always have and we always will," Marilyn said. "A good example happened the other day. We needed parts to fix a washer which had been purchased back in May. We couldn't get the part until next week, so we took a new washing machine off the floor for the customer to use until the new part arrived."
That's not unusual. It's been that way since Mr. Stinnette and Mr. Decker started D&S back in 1945 and since the Roth family has been in charge since 1963.
A lot of businesses talk about being families, but D&S really is. As examples, Marilyn is Steve's wife; Tag is Steve's son-in-law; Kari and Geno are Marilyn's daughter and son-in-law; and Kyle is Tag's son and Steve's grandson.
It may be hard to keep all this straight, but what really matters is the satisfaction you get from doing business with D&S. They're friendly; they're experienced, and they stand behind what they sell with dedicated service.