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Moving machinery describes part of Johnstone's aim


Tom Johnstone, Sr., left, his brother, John, and sister, Stephanie oversee operations of the Perrysburg business, which was founded in 1934 by William Johnstone, Sr.

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Johnstone Machinery Movers, Inc., does more than the family-owned Perrysburg business's name suggests.

Sure, Johnstone Machinery moves multiton industrial equipment from one spot to another. But the $1.2 million firm also takes apart old machinery and puts together new equipment, whether that means lifting items from a crowded basement, making sure flooring can handle added weight, or arranging equipment so machines won't interfere with each other.

Want to temporarily stow newly ordered equipment and store old machinery until another use or buyer is found? Johnstone Machinery can do both inside or outside its Perrysburg warehouse, where there is room for the company to expand.

And, perhaps most important, the company is familiar with complicated industrial machinery, a key selling point for companies needing expensive equipment moved and assembled.

“They pay $500,000 for a machine,” said Tom Johnstone, the firm's president and part-owner. “They don't want a bunch of yahoos in here saying, `Where do I pick this up?'”

Sylvania Township's Reichert Stamping Co. has worked with Johnstone Machinery for 30 years. The auto parts maker has used other companies, but the Wood County machinery firm has favorable expertise and equipment, said Tom Wiles, Reichert's plant engineer.

“It's very, very involved work,” he said. “I always go back to them.”

Johnstone Machinery has a lot going for it, from its location in the industrial heartland to offering an array of revenue-generating services, said Eugene Brymer, executive vice president of the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association in Fairfax, Va.

“They're in a good point because, first off, they're in the rust belt area of Ohio,” he said.

Founded in 1934 by the current owners' grandfather, William Johnstone, Sr., the company was led for many years by William Johnstone, Jr., until his unexpected death in 1989.

Tom Johnstone and two of his siblings - Stephanie K. and John E.- bought the business in 1995, about the same time it moved from Toledo's Detroit Avenue when a neighbor wanted to expand. Mr. Johnstone's son, Tom Jr., and Ms. Johnstone's daughter, Staci Raye, are involved in the business.

Surprisingly, only about a quarter of the firm's revenues come from jobs within Toledo, a fact that surfaced after it had to pay taxes on sales within the city's limits, said Ms. Johnstone, the firm's vice president and treasurer.

Yet from the company's role in the pulse of capital investment - and factory closings - a trend has been evident in the last two decades, the Johnstone siblings said.

Companies are taking advantage of economic incentives to build outside of cities, where electricity, for example, is cheaper, Mr. Johnstone said. Many of Johnstone Machinery's jobs are in suburban Toledo and throughout the region, he said.

“It's just the way people are doing things today,” he said. “I saw a change when we moved out Toledo Scale.”

First, companies moved to nonunion areas in the United States, Ms. Johnstone said. Then it was Mexico, then China, she said.

“They're trying to get cheaper and cheaper labor,” she said.

Still, there are a number of stable area companies - like Reichert Stamping - that Johnstone Machinery deals with regularly, they said. Johnstone Machinery's biggest specialty, they said, is installing metal-stamping presses, which can weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds and are broken into several sections.

Small Business Profile is a weekly feature on local companies. To be considered, send information about your company to Small Business Profiles, Business News, The Blade, 541 North Superior St., Toledo, Ohio 43660.

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