CommunitySuper Seniors

Actions

Super Senior: For Don Stanaway, putting in the work is all the fun

Don Stanaway 1_1.10.1.jpg
Posted at 5:58 PM, Jul 08, 2024

BILLINGS - This week, A&I Distributors is celebrating 100 years as one of the largest and oldest oil distributors in the region.

Don Stanaway has had a lot to do with that success.

“To me, it’s not work. It’s fun. Selling oil is fun,” Don says.

It’s something he has been doing for nearly all his life.

Don Stanaway 2_2.5.1.jpg

At the age of 94, you will still find Don here at the Billings office of A&I on a regular basis—serving as president emeritus.

“Well, I wasn’t here 100 years ago, but it wasn’t too long after that,” he smiles.

Oil has been in the family for the Stanaways for four generations, beginning with Don’s father, Frank.

Don Stanaway 3_2.2.1.jpg

From its meager Montana beginnings, A&I has now expanded to eight states.

“We are a distributor of over 20 brands of motor oil. We have more brands of motor oil to my knowledge of any other motor oil distributor in the United States,” Don says.

Don gives a lot of the credit to his late wife and A&I’s 200-plus employees, who now share in ownership of the company.

“This is truly a family business, and now we have expanded that to include our employees. They are part of our family,” Don says.

“He is such a smart guy who pours over the books. He pours over the sales analysis. He is really good because he keeps me and the rest of the company on our toes,” says Don’s son, Scott, who serves as president of the company.

“It’s been so great working with my dad. He is just such a positive influence to everybody he meets and he is such a positive influence around the office. It’s just been really fun,” Scott says.

Don Stanaway 4_1.11.1.jpg

Don has had an incredible life. He started working in the company warehouse as a young boy, and with most of the able-bodied men off to World War II, suffered a serious back injury trying to move a heavy drum of oil.

He faced the prospect of what at the time was a very risky surgery, which his doctor did not want to perform.

“But he said maybe if you do some sit-ups those muscles will keep your back aligned. So, I started doing 50 sit-ups a day in 1944 and up to now where I do 100 sit-ups every morning and 100 sit-ups every night. And my back is in great shape,” he says.

Along with his family and the company he helped build, Don has one other love—his horn.

He was one of the original members of the Billings Symphony and still plays the trombone.

“I still play. I have been playing the Al Bedoo Shrine band since 1952,” he says.

That’s when he is not here working— or having fun as he calls it—something he plans to keep right on doing.

“I have slowed down. I’m only working half days now. 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” he jokes.

Click here to nominate someone for Q2’s Super Senior segment.