New Meisner owner hopes to power up growth

New Meisner owner hopes to power up growth
Date June 05, 2006
Section(s) Local News

NDN Staff Writer

Meet the new owner of Meisner Electric, Bill Johnson.

Johnson purchased Meisner Electric last month, and he already is hard at work in the company’s Newton headquarters at 200-C N. Eighth Ave. E. An electrician by trade, Johnson has some big plans for his new company, not the least of which is growing Meisner into the largest and best electrical company in the state of Iowa.

Hailing most recently from Texas, Johnson is no stranger to Newton, and his move here marks a homecoming of sorts. Johnson worked for Meisner in the ’70s. Now he comes full circle, returning to the company where he completed the apprenticeship that jump-started his career as an electrician.

“I went through it,” he said. “I can’t really say that there’s a day I regretted going into it. I love what I do.”

Armed with his love for his trade and a desire to grow Meisner, Johnson already is thinking big. The new CEO wants to bump the number of employees from 86 up as high as 150 within the next year and a half.

Johnson believes his company can support that influx of workers, and he thinks laid off Maytag employees are the perfect people to help Meisner reach its potential.

“The Maytagers have a work ethic we’re looking for,” he said. “They are a stable bunch of people that are really battling right now with what they’re going to do.”

Johnson’s solution for laid-off Maytag employees: Train with Meisner to become a licensed electrician, a position Johnson says is in high demand. Meisner offers a four-year apprenticeship through which future electricians learn on the job, earn a salary and take one four-hour class a week. It’s the same program Johnson himself went through and one he highly recommends.

“There’s not too many four-year colleges you can go through, make a decent living and get out without having loans to pay off,” he said.

Johnson admits that an apprentice salary would be a pay cut for a typical Maytag worker, but he adds that Meisner employees learn through varied jobs and earn raises as they work toward journeyman status.

“You learn something new in every job you do,” he said.

In addition to growing Meisner’s operations, Johnson wants to see his company increase its involvement in the community by helping build homes through Habitat for Humanity and working with students through the trades program at Newton Senior High School. Johnson speaks of community service as “the right thing to do.”

Indeed, Johnson talks at length about the importance of strong work ethic and community service. He places high value on those concepts. Walking through Meisner’s headquarters, Johnson is stopped by an employee who tells the new CEO how impressive his son’s work ethic is.

Johnson beams from the compliment.

He says his son, Dallas, 20, has been putting in long hours already at company headquarters. Long-term, Johnson hopes to build the company into a legacy he can pass onto his son.

Short-term, Johnson’s plans to hire new workers and increase community service should increase Meisner’s role in Newton and Iowa.

“I think Meisner Electric in the next two years will be pretty high profile in Newton,” Johnson said.


One Response to “New Meisner owner hopes to power up growth”

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