A friend of a friend-Tommy Stevens-Wayne Stevens-July 21


One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for July 21, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

Like many men that work in a professional setting there comes with it a expectation that I don’t like which is be dressed in a pressed shirt and tie almost every day. That means I take a lot of dress shirts, slacks, and suits to the dry cleaner. There are lots of choices in Lumberton, NC but I have been a customer of City Cleaners for as long as I can remember.

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I never really thought much about dry cleaning until 1976 when I met Billy Lee for the first time. Billy is currently on the women’s basketball staff at UNC Chapel Hill. He told me that his dad owned a dry cleaning business in Mt Olive, NC. Billy and I got to know each other when he left New Bern HS to come be an assistant men’s basketball coach at East Carolina University alongside of Butch Estes and myself. Billy educated me on how hard the work was in the dry cleaning business. There was no interest on his part to carry on the family business. He wanted to coach..

In 1980 I accepted a job at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC as Assistant Basketball Coach working alongside another assistant coach named Rick Miller. Rick quickly informed me that his dad owned Barton & Miller Dry Cleaners in Fort Lauderdale, FL. In 1983 Rick was faced with a decision his dad was going to sell the business unless he wanted to run it and eventually own it. Rick was like Billy Lee he was pursuing his coaching profession in fact Rick was very close to becoming the Head Basketball Coach at Towson State when on his interview the Athletic Director died. The interim AD went with another candidate and Rick thought long and hard about his impending choice. He decided to leave coaching and run the dry cleaning business. He did that for thirty years before selling the business. Ironically his only son Jamie is a college coach and didn’t want to pursue the business.

I tell both of these stories because having a business remain in control with one family over time is not easy. City Dry Cleaners in Lumberton was established in 1946. Founders Raymond and Elizabeth Stevens brought the dry cleaning industry to the city of Lumberton in 1946. As they made their way through the years and decades, the Stevens family has kept the consistency of customer service, workmanship and thoughtfulness from 2nd generation management of Wayne Stevens to today’s 3rd generation with Tommy Stevens.

I choose City Cleaners for a couple factors and remain a customer today for many more. I first choose them because of their proximity to where I live and they were opened at 6 a.m. I am an early riser and being able to drive four blocks when I head off to work at 6:15 a.m. and drop my clothes off is a plus. Over time the customer service that Wayne Stevens and his son have delivered to our family is amazing.

City Cleaners delivers finished dry cleaning to our front door often the same day that I have dropped it off at 6:15 a.m. Wayne Stevens is always there to greet me most mornings when I am dropping clothes off. He is aways upbeat and talkative.

Wayne is carrying on the business that his mom and dad Raymond and Elizabeth started. He gets to work alongside his friend, son, and business partner Tommy Stevens each day.

The Friend – WAYNE STEVENS

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The Friend – TOMMY STEVENS

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Father, son, business partners & neighbors

Tommy Stevens and his dad spend lots of time together. They can’t help it. Tommy is his son and also his business partner. He and his wife Donna and there two boys live directly across the street from Wayne. Their homes are not three blocks from City Cleaners.

Tommy and his wife have two active sons that are involved with scouting, soccer, baseball, basketball, and other church activities.

Picture below of Tommy wife Donna and their two sons.

Donna Stevens

I don’t know what those two boys will decide to do but they will not be able to deny they have been around the dry cleaning business. If they choose coaching I have seen that done before/

Glad that if I have to wear a pressed shirt and tie each day to work that someone I admire and enjoy being around does the work. City Cleaners and Wayne and Tommy doesn’t make it so bad knowing they love their jobs and each other.

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