Places & Faces
First Person with The Stine Brothers
8/28/2018 10:49:17 AM
First Person

For David and Dennis Stine, growing up in Sulphur, Louisiana in the 1950s and 1960s made for an idyllic childhood. It wasn’t only the seven kids sleeping inside the screened-in porch with a gentle lullaby of crickets and frogs to carry them off to slumber at the family camp in Hackberry, or the muddy waters of Big Lake where J.W. Stine was a notorious boat captain and no one, not even his own children, was safe when he docked the boat that made the Stine children’s youth so special. It was also a hard-working, loving mother and devoted father who painted these scenes with a Norman Rockwell-esque flair. Piling the children up into the station wagon and driving all day to some exciting location for family vacations and then taking time to swim and laugh in the hotel pool with the kids half the night was not unusual for J.W. and Dee Dee Stine; nor was taking the time to ensure each child knew they were loved and absolutely cherished.

J.W. Stine, patriarch of the Stine family, was a motivator, an encourager, and a larger-than-life father who let each of his children choose their own path. Looking back, identical twins David and Dennis agree that it says something about the man who recently celebrated his 100th birthday that six of his sons followed him into the family business. Thrive recently caught up with these busy entrepreneurs and they provided some insight into their remarkable family business and the memories of growing up with a visionary like J.W. Stine. 

As twins, were you ever tempted to switch places? And who is older? 
Dennis: I am older by nine minutes. Many times people think they are talking to David but they are actually talking to me. Dad has told this story hundreds of times, and as he tells it, I was on my tricycle in the middle of the shell street that we grew up on. He said he hollered at me, "David get out of the middle of the road!” I didn’t move. He hollered again and again and finally went over to me to pull me out of the street. I slowly rode my tricycle out of the road and I looked up and said, "I not David, I Dennis.” He laughed and laughed and didn’t have the heart to spank me for not obeying him. 
David: I can remember only one time pretending to be Dennis. It was when he asked me to sit in for him in a college class in which he had too many absences. The professor never knew the difference! 

What prompted you to follow your father into the family business? 
David: We both started college at USL in Lafayette, which is now ULL. We all paid our own way to college, and tuition wasn’t bad, but coupled with room and board, the money dried up quickly. We returned home after the first year to attend McNeese. I think Dad had a plan in making us pay for school. In doing so, he knew we would return to an excellent education at McNeese, have free room and board at home, and work for his company after class.
Dennis: Working full time at the lumber yard while I was in college allowed me to learn the business and become comfortable with serving people. Dad gave us an incredible amount of responsibility at a young age which only encouraged us to be more involved in the business. We became hooked! Dad was a pretty smart man. Not many companies survive past the second generation, but we’ve worked hard with outside family planning to create a legacy for our children and hopefully succeeding generations.

Stine’s Lumber recently commemorated J.W. Stine’s 100th birthday. How did your family celebrate this occasion with the community?
David: We celebrated with all of our associates and customers at all 11 Stine stores. We gave away 1000 100th Birthday commemorative hats, grilled hot dogs, and served birthday cake. We also had several proclamations from different bodies: Sulphur, Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana Senate, the Governor’s office, and even the President of the United States! 
Dennis: I visited six of our stores on the Saturday we held the celebrations which were enjoyed by associates and customers alike. I think it gave our associates and our customers an opportunity to be a part of a family event within our family business, making it an awesome day. 

What role does faith play in your family and business? 
David: Our parents taught us the importance of having faith in a higher being, which gives a person humility. There are struggles we, and other businesses, face every day, and if you can’t anchor them to a strong faith in God, then you’re in for tough times. Faith and family are the two formational values of our eight company core values. This is the legacy of our father and our company. 

What advice would you give younger generations or aspiring business owners? 
Dennis: Business is not terribly complicated, so don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Let guiding principles or values steer your decisions and don’t compromise those principles. Be passionate and accountable to your job, making certain to respect and grow yourself and the people who work with you. And finally, follow the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated.

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