Joss pool cues, a labor of love

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Why would a man with the last name of Janes, call the pool cue company that he helped found, Joss Cues?

The name, Joss, came from the 1966 book “Tai-Pan,” by James Clavell that Dan Janes read while starting the company in a two-car garage with a partner in 1968. “In the book, ‘joss’ is a Chinese word that means good and bad fortune…happiness and unhappiness,” says Dan. “It’s a good overall word saying you are in charge, you are in control of your joss. And it seemed like a good name for a cue.”

Once a jet aircraft mechanic, Dan Janes realized that he could make a better pool cue when returning from a pool trip in the 1960’s with player Ed Kelly of Baltimore.

Joss Cues is the oldest continually operating family-owned pool stick maker in the United States, personally hand-crafting cues with the assistance of computer-assisted cutting and carving. They ship to customers throughout the world and their cues are used by some of the top professionals in the sport of billiards.

With only a handful of employees, Joss still keeps churning out handmade cues regularly, and they’ve just come off their best summer of production in a decade.

The business has been in operation in the same Towson location for 35 years, two years before Stephen Janes, then 18, started to work at Joss. “I love my job. I look forward to getting up, coming in and working, and doing things. Every day is something magical.”

Stephen has helped the business evolve with a number of innovative advances in stick-making, and with the help of father and his mother Debbie, they make sure the cues are each inspected before being available for sale. “We make Joss Cues. Every Joss cue is my cue. You can buy it, but you’re still playing with my cue and that’s why I have to make sure everything’s perfect when you get it.”