Dan Johnson and his fertilizer business grew up together
Posted By Sparta Live | May 23, 2006 12:00 am
Dan Johnson started Johnson Fertilizer when he was only 16 years old, and 47 years later he is still helping White County farmers keep their fields green.
Johnson grew up in Yankeetown. As a young boy, he worked with his father on the family farm. His father died when Johnson was only 16 years old, but he knew he had to continue to work hard.
Johnson was in high school at the time. Running a business and keeping up with school responsibilities was no easy task.
“In the spring, I would drive to Nashville, as soon as I got out of school, to get a load of fertilizer to bring back and sell,” said Johnson.
“The only problem I had was that my mother made me go to school.”
His mother knew an education was important, and she wanted him to graduate from high school.
“With the help of Mr. Cooley, I graduated,” said Johnson.
“He helped work out my class schedule so I could work in the afternoon.”
In the summer months, Johnson hauled coal and farmed.
Originally, the fertilizer company was in the Yankeetown community, but in 1964 he went to work at the location in town.
Agrico Chemical Company bought the location and hired Johnson as manager. During this time, Johnson was still selling for himself on the side, and in the late 1960’s he bought the Sparta location of Agrico Chemical Company.
Johnson Fertilizer mixes and blends fertilizer for field crops.
Farmers bring a sample of their soil. Johnson tests to see what plant nutrients are present and mixes special blends of fertilizer to balance the nutrients in the soil.
Johnson has four full -ime and four part-time employees. His wife Jane is in charge of bookkeeping and secretarial duties. Ronnie Spivey and Wayne Spivey have worked for Johnson about
35 years and are loyal employees. The Spivey brothers deliver fertilizer to the farmers in large spreader trucks.
They are skilled in operating the equipment to make sure the fertilizer is dispersed in the proper amount, the right distance apart.
“Ronnie and Wayne get to know the farmers,” said Jane
“They make connections with the local farmers and help keep our business strong.”
Sixty percent of the fertilizer business is done in March and April, so four seasonal employees are also needed. They include Melvin Abston, Ralph Sims, Sam Slatton and Mike Graham.
Dan and Jane met while taking piano lessons from the same teacher, Ms. Mary Moyers.
Their families knew each other, and the two started dating. They were married in 1961. Jane was 16, and Dan was 19.
They have two sons, Michael L. Johnson, who lives in Gallatin, and Daniel (Mack) Johnson, who lives in Sparta.
Dan and Jane attend Robinson Chapel Presbyterian Church.