February 9, 2007

Johnson

And the man behind the brand is...
Samuel Johnson

For much of his lifetime Samuel Curtis Johnson migrated from town to town in the Midwest. The eldest of 11 children born on Christmas Eve, 1833 his family moved every few years. Appropriately his first job was with the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. Never able to obtain a proper education in his youth Johnson decided to enroll at Oberlin College in Ohio at the age of 24.

A year later he was on the move again, working for the Kenosha, Rockford & Rock Island Railroad in Kenosha, Wisconsin. When he married shortly thereafter he began investing half of his monthly $100 salary in the railroad. The line went bankrupt and Johnson lost his entire savings.

For the next 30 years Johnson’s career was undistinguished as he drifted in and out of a variety of jobs. In 1886 he hired on with the Racine Hardware Company selling decorative parquet floors. Johnson bought his employer’s company that year and began selling and installing parquet floors on his own.

After spending so lavishly for their special floors Johnson soon found himself fielding questions on the best way to care for the inlaid floors. He knew that fancy European parquet floors had been maintained with beeswax for centuries. Johnson began mixing his own waxes and starting in 1888 every floor his company installed came with a free can of Johnson’s Prepared Paste Wax.

Although other waxes and polishes were available it was Samuel Johnson who gained a wide reputation as a wood-finishing expert. By 1898 Johnson was selling more wax and paste than parquet floors. Although waxed floors are not the priority they were one hundred years ago when expensive wood requires extra care it is still Johnson’s wax, manufactured with the exact secret formulation that gets the job done.

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