Hard work pays off for JBS worker

In the midst of the daily grind during his job in the meat packing industry, David Vilez keeps a smiling face.

“It keeps me from thinking negative,” Vilez said. “In a job like this, you’ve got to think positive.”

That smiling face will be apparent to area residents this Saturday. Vilez has been selected to be the Oktemberfest parade grand marshal after being nominated by a committee of JBS staff. Vilez, 67, has worked at the company for 39 years.

“It’s an honor,” Vilez said of his grand marshal selection. “I’m just a plain person. It’s going to be pretty exciting.”

Vilez’s job is known as a steam vac operator as he steams off grease from the hams.

“It’s hard work, but working hard is not a painful thing – it rewards you,” Vilez said.

Mike McQuade, human resources director with JBS, said Vilez is the perfect selection to represent the company and has been a positive influence through the years.

“He’s just got a really great attitude,” McQuade said. “To be real positive and upbeat through 39 years in the meat packing industry is nothing short of a miracle.”

Vilez was born in San Antonio into a family of migrant workers. He started employment at what is now known as JBS is 1974 after serving for two years in the Peace Corps.

The Marshalltown resident said his body has held up well and he hopes to work a few more years at JBS.

“I want to stick it out until I’m 70,” he said.

He said he has an enjoyable time with his co-workers at JBS.

“There’s a lot of good people here that take care of you,” Vilez said.

The JBS name will be a recognizable one at the festival this year. The company is a diamond sponsor of Oktemberfest and the business is celebrating 60 years as a company.

The company will cook pork products during the festival’s car show Friday night to raise money for the Project Lead the Way initiative at Marshalltown High School.

The parade is at 10 a.m. Saturday.