Johnson & Sons Paving Grows Via Customer Service
BY Dan McGinnity
Johnson & Sons Paving, Lannon, Wisconsin, has seen growth since opening its doors Spring 2014. In fact, the commercial paving contractor was recently named one of the “Milwaukee Area’s Future 50” companies, which recognizes fast-growing companies in business for at least three years and showing significant revenue and employment growth.
Today, Johnson & Sons has 52 employees and provides a full range of asphalt construction services for customers in Milwaukee and Waukesha, while recently expanding into Madison, Racine and Kenosha.
Johnson & Sons’ President Jason Johnson credits the growth in part to the company’s business approach of “putting customers first.” He said it’s based on feedback he received from several successful business owners he knew prior to starting the company: “To a person, they said that if you take care of your customers, they’ll come back and let others know about your business.
“We really try to make quality work and exceptional customer service our calling card,” Johnson continued. “We work with customers on their schedules, not ours. Whatever they want, that’s what we’ll do.”
With several years of experience under its belt, Johnson said the company has identified its sweet spot as large commercial parking lots and driveways, and condo and homeowners associations. “It’s a good niche for us and we’re earning a reputation as a company that does quality work on time and on budget,” Johnson said. “That’s led to a lot of repeat business and referrals, which are the lifeblood of any young company.”
The company places about 53,000 tons of asphalt per year and Johnson shared, “About 90 percent of our work is with asphalt. We also do concrete work, primarily for curbs, gutters and sidewalks as part of our commercial paving jobs.”
Johnson got BS degree in civil engineering from Marquette University, then spent 15 years in the construction and paving industries before venturing out on his own. Based on his experience, he’s created a company where employees are appreciated and rewarded.
“One of our industry’s biggest growth challenges is the labor shortage, especially for positions requiring CDL or specialized skills,” Johnson said. “If you want to hire and keep good employees, you have to treat them with respect and show them they have a vested interest in the company’s success. In addition to a competitive wage, we offer a full benefit package with health, dental, vision and a 401(k) with company match. I want our employees to know that more than a job, they can have a career with us.
“Keep your best employees close to you and treat them with respect,” he advised others. “Having employees you trust and can depend on will help you through the ups and downs—good days and bad.”
Many of the employees who started with Johnson & Sons have moved into more senior roles, and they’ve helped bring new talent to the team by recruiting friends and family members. “We work hard, we get along well and we socialize outside of work, too,” Johnson said. “It feels good when an employee wants his or her buddy to come work for us. It validates that we must be doing something right.”
Johnson & Sons’ family-type culture is fueled in part by the many family members who are involved with the company. Jason’s brother Jeff is a senior sales executive. His uncle Bobby and cousin Dave work on paving crews, joined by Jason’s oldest son Andrew in the summer.
It was his mother Roberta, though, who was instrumental in getting J&S started. She left her job as a senior hospital administrator to put together the business plan that allowed Jason to get the financing to get the company off the ground. For the first three years, she also handled the company’s human resources, marketing and anything else that needed to be done.
“Mom has been amazing, and my dad is very supportive as well,” Jason said. “It’s been great having their experience and expertise at my disposal.”
Like most young companies, Johnson said he has a lean management team and he’s looking to develop and recruit the skills sets needed to support growth. As for the company brand, Johnson said the company will continue to focus on quality work and exceptional customer service. “If we take good care of our customers, they’ll come back and they’ll let others know about us. And that’s what makes for a successful business.”