Venis and Deon Willis have a lot in common. The pair are not only brothers but best friends. They have also spent more than two decades working for Ford Motor Company.
Venis currently works as body shop superintendent at Louisville Assembly Plant, and Deon serves as final area manager at Dearborn Truck Plant. Venis was recently on a three-week assignment at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center bringing him to Dearborn and closer to his brother.
“We actually have a good representation of our family at Ford Motor Company,” Deon said. “I got in then my brother got in. Our uncle was the work standards rep over at Wayne Assembly Plant back in 1999 and he was able to get both of us in.”
The pair was born in Inkster, Michigan and Venis is just 18 months older. They even attended the same college - Eastern Michigan University.
“We’re like twins,” Venis said.
Deon began his career with Ford in May 1999 at Wayne Assembly Plant, working on the line while attending college as a sophomore.
Venis served in the United States Army for three and a half years and was transitioning back to civilian life when he began at Wayne Assembly. Deon had only started about four months before his brother.
The pair moved through different zones and plants, respectively, and gained a lot of knowledge within the company and manufacturing. Both are grateful for the life and career path Ford has offered their family.
“I have two uncles who retired from Ford and I have a bunch of cousins and a sibling who works for Ford,” Deon said. “And I just look at the standard of living it afforded us. Ford is just a blessing.”
“Ford has always been a family business and we have been blessed, like Deon said, to have so much legacy within the company,” Venis said.
Having an extra support system within their sibling is something the Willis brothers appreciate.
“We rely on each other a lot,” Venis said. “Deon has served as a brother, friend, mentor and confidant.”
“I laugh because over the years I've had to tell Venis, ‘Hey, we’re off work, man. No talking about work.’”
Outside of Ford, the brothers have coached several championship youth football teams together. Ford is so strongly rooted in their lives that they even use lessons and principles they have learned at work in their coaching.
At the end of the day, Venis and Deon are extremely proud to be part of the Ford family together.
“We're one of the last big manufacturing powerhouses in America and that's something to be proud of,” Deon said. “And I preach that to the people I work with every day. Be proud of what we’re doing. Be proud of the products we’re building because a lot of people don't get to do it. We have to represent.”