Johnson Truck Bodies - 1932-present - Rice Lake, Wisconsin


Johnson Truck Bodies Ė Rice Lake, Wisconsin In the small town of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, four brothers took part in the origin and development of what today is JOHNSON TRUCK BODIES. Back in 1932, the oldest brother, Herbert Johnson, started the business as the Johnson Welding & Manufacturing Company. From a modest beginning, the company has grown to be a pioneer and a leader in the manufacture of fiberglass, refrigerated truck bodies and trailers. Early manufacturing ventures included farm wagons, snowplows, and general freight truck bodies. During the early 1940ís the process of retinning milk cans was added to the business, and the company name was changed to JOHNSON TRUCK BODIES & RETINNING SERVICE. Brother Morris Johnson developed the retinning business to a peak output of 1,500 cans per day making the company one of the largest retinners in the world. The retinning division was sold in 1965 after bulk milk pickup made the use of cans obsolete. The profitable retinning years made possible serious and innovative development of better truck bodies. Brothers Henry and Hugo Johnson were active in this area. The first bodies were very heavy, constructed of an oak and steel framework with interior and exterior steel walls. Henry. who was very inventive, began experimenting with the use of fiberglass-reinforced-plastic which, in the early 50ís, made it possible for JOHNSON to start making component parts such as one-piece roofs, walls, and liners. The Johnsons found that these parts were lighter in weight, exceptionally strong, and would not corrode when subjected to temperature and climate abuse. Early insulation presented another great challenge. Again, years of tests and development produced success. JOHNSONís bought one of the first three foam-dispensing guns in the country in 1950. Ultimately JOHNSON developed the most advanced insulated truck body for the perishable food industry by combining urethane foam and fiberglass-reinforced plastic. This resulted in a body with negligible refrigeration loss and no deterioration through electrolysis. Exports begun in the late 50ís, increased greatly in 1960. That year Foremost Dairies   ordered bodies for the delivery of fluid milk and ice cream in Bangkok, Thailand. Other orders that year went to Canada, Nicaragua, the Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Exports to the Far and Middle East, Central and South America followed. By 1959, a detachable body called the Cold-Con container was on the market. These detachable bodies were mounted on a main trailer frame to transport product from the main processing plant to outlying locations where they were transferred to individual truck chassis for route delivery. Of the four Johnson brothers, only Morris remained with the business until he retired in 1971. J. Charles Peterson and Edmund A. Ricci (both family members) had become partners in the business by the late 60ís and continued ownership until May 31, 1999, when they sold the company to Carlisle Companies Incorporated of Syracuse, NY. Carlisle will continue operating the company with the original JOHNSON management team out of Rice Lake, Wisconsin.



For more information please read:

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Denis Miller - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trucks and Buses

Tad Burness - American Truck Spotter's Guide, 1920-1970

Tad Burness - American Truck & Bus Spotter's Guide, 1920-1985

Robert M Roll - American trucking: A seventy-five year odyssey

David Jacobs - American Trucks: A photographic essay of American Trucks and Trucking

David Jacobs - American Trucks: More Colour Photographs of Truck & Trucking

John Gunnell - American Work Trucks: A Pictorial History of Commercial Trucks 1900-1994

George W. Green - Special-Use Vehicles: An Illustrated History of Unconventional Cars and Trucks

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Ronald G. Adams - 100 Years of Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Big Rigs: The Complete History of the American Semi Truck

Stan Holtzman & Jeremy Harris Lipschultz - Classic American Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Semi Truck Color History

Donald F. Wood - American Beer Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Beverage Trucks: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - Commercial Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Delivery Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Dump Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Gas & Oil Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Logging Trucks 1915 Through 1970: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - New Car Carriers 1910-1998 Photo Album

Donald F. Wood - RVs & Campers 1900-2000: An Illustrated History

Donald F. Wood - Wreckers and Tow Trucks

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Impressive International Trucks 1907-1947

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Keen Kenworth Trucks - 1915-1955

Richard J. Copello - American Car Haulers

Niels Jansen - Pictorial History of American Trucks

John B. Montville - Refuse Trucks: Photo Archive

Bill Rhodes - Circus and Carnival Trucks 1941-2000: Photo Archive

Howard L. Applegate - Coca-Cola: Its Vehicles in Photographs 1930 Through 1969: Photo Archive

James T. Lenzke & Karen E. O'Brien - Standard Catalog of American Light-Duty Trucks: 1896-2000

James K. Wagner - Ford Trucks since 1905

Don Bunn - Dodge Trucks

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

Don Bunn - Encyclopedia of Chevrolet Trucks


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