Savannah, GA,
05:07 PM

The Ties that Bind


Johnson Feed continues to depend on Great Dane reefers and dry vans to get the job done

Along with his two brothers Darcy and Mitch, Todd Johnson operates Johnson Feed Inc., a family-owned truckload carrier based in Canton, South Dakota. From five facilities in South Dakota and Iowa, the company provides refrigerated and dry freight service to customers with a fleet of 265 company-owned and leased tractors and over 600 Great Dane trailers. Johnson Feed is also a distributor of grain, salt, twine, pet food and tires.

Replacing trailers after five years of service means Johnson Feed is bringing about 125 new Great Danes into its fleet annually. Older models in the operation include Super Seal reefers and P-101 dry vans. In 2012, and again in 2013, the company is replacing 2008s with around 25 Champion SE dry vans and about 100 Everest SS models in each year.

The new Everest reefers at Johnson Feed feature heavy-duty aluminum duct floors. Great Dane's reefer floors have held up very well over the years," Johnson says. "We even have about 60 of our 1999 models that we were able to put into a rental operation for refrigerated storage trailers because the floors are so durable." Johnson Feed's Everest SS reefers are equipped with Carrier and Thermo King refrigeration units and are fitted with door switches to ensure refrigeration equipment does not run when doors are open during loading and unloading operations.

Another standard spec for Johnson Feed's Everest reefers is Great Dane's exclusive PunctureGuard glass-reinforced, thermoplastic interior lining. Superior in puncture resistance, peel strength and weight savings compared to other options currently available, Johnson Feed found PunctureGuard to be stronger than competitive products. "Its greater impact resistance means less damage to the insulation and less loss of thermal integrity," Johnson notes. "It's also lighter than other linings."

Weight saving specs at Johnson Feed for both its Everest reefers and Champion dry freight vans also include aluminum wheels and Meritor RideSentry air suspension, axle, slider and brake systems. New Johnson Feed Great Dane trailers are fitted as well withTranstex Composite's Maximum Flex Skirt (MFS) trailer side skirts made of lightweight reinforced thermoplastic composite panels.


All maintenance for the Johnson Feed fleet is handled in five company facilities. Helping ensure fewer problems on new trailers is the Meritor Tire Inflation System (MTIS) by P.S.I. with ThermALERT wheelend heat sensors. "The automatic tire inflation systems keep tires properly inflated for fuel efficiency and safety," Johnson states, "while the ThermALERT option reduces downtime by alerting drivers to stop for repairs before damage from high wheel-end temperatures can occur."

Johnson Feed was founded in the 1920's by Carl Johnson, who used a horse and wagon to haul coal, grain and other supplies for area farmers. In the early 1940's, Carl's son Cliff expanded the company to offer local trucking. In the next decade, under Cliff's son Darvin, the family business grew to include tractors and trailers, and began providing over the road, long haul service. By the 1980's, Darvin Johnson's sons, including Todd and his brothers, had joined the business they run today.

Johnson Feed is still a family operation in other ways as well. Along with the fourth generation of Johnson family members, its extended family includes a current office employee who drove for the company 35 years ago, and whose father drove trucks for Cliff Johnson 60 years ago.

"Our success has always been based on relationships with employees, customers and suppliers like Great Dane," Todd Johnson says. "The company treats us very well, and it builds trailers that don't give us problems so we can run them productively and efficiently in our operation."

Creating a Firm Foundation
Great Dane Trailer Floors

The heavy-duty aluminum duct floors in the Everest reefers at Johnson Feed are superior in many ways. In fact, Great Dane's standard mediumduty reefer floors, with a 16,000-pound forklift rating, have the same load capacity as heavy-duty options offered by many competitors.

Under all Great Dane heavy-duty duct or flat aluminum floors are extruded aluminum I-beam inserts that extend nearly four feet from the rear to reinforce the center of the floor, providing protection from initial forklift impact. Additionally, five dock protector plates are evenly spaced across the rear to distribute loading stresses.

The Great Dane aluminum duct floor is robotically welded full length to seal out moisture. All Everest reefers are standard with an anti-corrosion floor system consisting of full-width composite floor sills located over each crossmember for extra support, Magni-coated floor and sill screws, and an improved one-piece thermoplastic subfloor pan.