As seen in the Tried & True Fall 2021 issue
In the mid-1980s, two brothers invested $2,700 in a tile machine and a dream. By 1990, they officially incorporated Johnston Land Improvement, which over the past three decades has grown into a booming business in Victoria, Illinois. Specializing in drainage systems for construction sites, the company is well-known in their community and in the region for providing an incredible level of service. Bryan Johnston, one of the brothers and current president of the company, says, “We’ve really got it good with our customers. Business has been good. It’s been fun.”
Like so many small businesses, even with diligence and hard work, it took some time for Johnston Land Improvement to grow into the successful enterprise it is today. The first machine they purchased was shredded early on when it didn’t clear an overpass. But they didn’t give up. Instead, they welded it back together and kept going.
This family-run operation continues to forge ahead, with Bryan’s son, John, and brother, David, whose sons work on the tile crew with him. In fact, the entire organization is like a family, something that really resonates with Fratco. As a fourth-generation family-owned business, Fratco has done some of its best work when aligned with companies that share similar values, including a deep commitment to customers and staff, which is one of the reasons the relationship between these two companies continues to thrive.
Over the years, Johnston Land Improvement has steadily upgraded their equipment to top-of-the-line machinery that plays a large role in their efficiency and incredible productivity. As Bryan explains, “Even if the workers started at noon, they’d still install 30,000 feet of pipe by the end of the day.”
That’s a lot of material installed, so a lot of material is needed. That’s why Johnston Land Improvement has repeatedly counted on Fratco for their extensive demand. Over the years, this business relationship has continued and flourished because working together has been a positive experience for both parties.
That’s not to say things have been perfect, but over the years, things have always improved. For example, in the beginning, Johnston Land Improvement was getting their tile from Fratco’s St. Anne location. As Bryan recalls, “The trip to St. Anne was about three and a half hours each way, so it would take a full day for one truck to bring me just one load of tile.” The quality of the product and the commitment of Fratco was always strong, though, so they didn’t look for a closer supplier. They simply made do.
However, when Fratco established a plant in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, the new location conveniently cut the time it took to get back and forth to Victoria in half and helped Johnston Land Improvement increase their already impressive productivity. As Bryan reports, “They usually bring me the first load at seven in the morning, and they get the second load to us about 11 or 12 o’clock. And if we forget something on the first load, we can always get it on the second. They make it easy for us.”
When you’re managing a half-million-dollar-per-year business, you want things to be easy whenever they can. That means knowing you have reliable, supportive customer service, which Bryan appreciates. “Fratco does a great job running the office at Mt. Pleasant. They run things like clockwork. They must have people watching things pretty closely over there.”
Johnston Land Improvement is also very happy with the pipe they receive, which makes a huge impact on how the company operates. “Fratco gives us a very consistent product, a product you can count on. We’ve been very happy with their pipe,” Bryan says. He’s also happy to recommend Fratco pipe to others, based on both the quality of the product and his experience working with Fratco. “When we get pipe from Fratco, we know it’s good material. That makes it pretty easy to tell others that it’s a good place to do business.”
Quality product, quality service: two core business values Johnston Land Improvement and Fratco share that will no doubt enrich and enhance their working relationship for decades to come.