Edwin Johnson, Jr.
President of Johnson Bros. Metal Forming Co.
Passed away on March 30th 2017
Edwin Johnson Jr., began helping his father, Ed Johnson, Sr. in 1947 and earlier with part time work. Dad had done other jobs such as cement construction, teaching college courses, and others prior to this. Some of Dad`s comments I remember when starting with Johnson Co., was a barn they were in in Chicago where Dad used to take the end of a part for Middleby Marshall Co., and guide it through a hole in the wall of the barn, then he would run around to the outside of the barn to catch the end of the part again until it was cut to length for packing. Another story before this was when Ed Sr. was just starting out and was building machines before making parts. These were roll formers and cutoffs and prepunches and ring benders to go on the roll formers. Grandpa built the 1st roll former in his basement and when he was through, he and Dad had to disassemble it and carry it upstairs to the garage. Later a machine grandpa made was making parts and due to neighbor complaints, the Johnson Co., as it was called before the name Johnson Bros. Metal Forming Co. was used, was moved to Chicago. Edwin Jr. helped poured the concrete for the floor in Chicago that was formerly dirt.
When Ed Jr returned from service in the Army after college, he laid out the tool room and roll forming areas of the new shop in Bellwood, where the Oakley Steel Corp. eventually wound up by the Borg Warner plant. Dad worked in the production and tooling departments as well as accounting and administration departments. In 1958 the business of Johnson Bros. Metal Forming Co was Incorporated with Dad as Treasurer and Vice President, as Sr`s brother Harold had retired. Johnson Bros. was called that because most of Ed Johnson Sr`s brothers, starting with Harold were working at the company at various times. It was in the 60`s that Ed Jr became one of the 1st founding board members of the CRFI (Custom Roll Forming Institute) and possibly their treasurer, which is now the PMA`s Roll Forming Division. Dad was always the one involved with advertising until handing that off to Brad Johnson his son, in the 1980s. Grandpa needed Dad`s expertise, along with his master’s degree in business, to handle the financial portion of the business. In 1988 Edwin, Jr was President of the company as his father Ed, Sr had lost his fight with cancer.
In 1963, Dad began designing a new building, offices and shop to be built in Berkeley, Il, and in 1964 the project was completed. An addition to the production area and later more offices were added by the early 1970`s. In 1998 Ed Jr purchased the Data Book building next to the original plant and moved the offices there along with some plant production. Dad`s son Brad who started in 1978 full time and part time previous to that, helped design the production of the added building along with great help from shop personnel. Brad, with a business major in college, had helped Dad by restructuring the business with better equipment, tooling, and personnel, along with some changes in office procedure, after going through terrible years with losses in the early 1980s. The business became profitable again in most years that were to follow. Dad stayed in the financial area of the business up to even this Jan. 2017 at 86 years old. He was active his whole life in the financial portion of the business and in other areas until his grandson Matt Johnson started taking over in that role and helping him. Dad continued checking the computer quote workups through mid-January of 2017.
In 2015 Matt, grandson of Ed Jr., and Ed Jr acted on plans for the move into our new building (formerly the Skil building down the street), double the size of the two old buildings combined at approximately 80,000 sqft. Brad, Ed`s son was involved in day to day running and management of the business at that time except the financial portion. Through Matt`s and Ed Jr`s tough, excellent work along with shop and office designs, worked out by most of us in management communicated to Matt, the new building was occupied. More roll formers, presses and tool room equipment were added by Brad and are still being added into the newest, current building. A move to even a larger building is being thought about by Brad and Matt, based on current trends, new orders and profitability.
Johnson Bros. position remains strong and has now passed on to the 4th generation. Johnson Bros produces between 8-10 million in sales presently with plans and new customers to expand that. Johnson Bros. Roll Forming Co. sells most nationally as well as locally and internationally. Without Ed Jr and his talent, goals, plans and policies, along with Brad`s, this company never would have made it through the early 1980s. At that time, Brad, involved in running the shop and the sales, told Ed what would be needed to be profitable and said it was time for the 1st business loan for Johnson Bros. or they had to sell. Ed Jr chose not to sell and obtained financing. Ed Jr`s constant endurance through other difficulties for the company and personally, through lean and great years up to this year in 2017, is the reason this company is still here today, now left for Brad and Matt to carry on. Dad lost his battle with Myeloma cancer and other complications on Thursday, March 30th at 1:50 a.m. 2017.
And the story of Johnson Bros and Ed Johnson Jr`s heritage continues by the grace of God who we believe has granted all the achievements and successes we have ever had. The company remains firmly a Christian owned and run company. Through the Lord Jesus working in Ed Jr and his family it became that and continues to be dedicated to our Lord Jesus Christ through the owners and family working here who have all received the Lord as their personal Savior. All glory for the good in this business, the successes and sustenance, is the Lord`s. ultimately, we all work for Him here, as stated by Brad and his father Ed Jr before him.