Press-Republican

October 29, 2012

Johnson's Auto Glass and Trim Shop closed

Part of the Plattsburgh business community since 1953

By DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Johnson’s Auto Glass and Trim Shop has closed after 59 years in business.

The last day of work at the shop, owned by Dick and Dan Johnson, was Oct. 26. 

The business was started by their father, Harmon (Jack) Johnson, on Green Street in the City of Plattsburgh in 1953. A city firefighter, he died unexpectedly from a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1961.

His wife, Daisy, took over the business. She moved it to the present location at the corner of Bridge and Macdonough streets in 1962.

“She did a great job in a male-dominated industry,” Dan said. 

Dick and Dan joined the team in 1960, and took over when their mother retired in 1988.

“It’s been a good run,” Dan said, adding that he is now 65. “It’s time to relax a little.” 

LARGE SERVICE AREA

The Johnsons had planned to sell the business but changed their minds. Dan said two of their four technicians are thinking about starting a similar enterprise, but it won’t be at the present location. 

Johnson’s Auto Glass offered windshield repair, automotive glass replacement, heavy-equipment safety-glass replacement, sunroof installations, truck rear-window sliding units, T-top replacements and pickup truck tonneau covers. The business also specialized in repair of convertible roofs.

“That’s a master trade in itself,” Dan said.

Their service area extended from the border and Lake Champlain to Massena, Tupper Lake and Lake George.

‘THE RIGHT METHODS’

The brothers remember working all-night shifts to replace windshields and windows on construction equipment used to build the Adirondack Northway (Interstate 87). They would drive down to the work site, pick up the glass, bring it to the shop to cut a match and then bring it back to the site for replacement in time for work the next day.

One of the most significant changes in the industry was the move from bulky rubber gaskets to urethane seals. Dan said the latter requires a controlled, dry environment, and Johnson’s Auto Glass was one of the first local shops to adopt the practice.

They used to carry a huge inventory of glass on the second floor, but the advent of same-day or next-day delivery ended that necessity.

The staff has always stayed up to date with the latest materials and processes.

“We’ve always stressed to use the right methods to do a professional job,” Dan said.

EMPLOYEE APPRECIATION

The Johnsons came to Plattsburgh through the U.S. Air Force, and the brothers have lived in the Plattsburgh area their whole life. On top of his work at the company, Dan spent 20 years working for the City Police Department and retired in 1989.

The Johnsons credit the success of the business to their employees and customers.

“We want to thank our North Country neighbors, friends and businesses for their loyalty,” Dick said.

He said the staff, which also included three office workers, has a high level of professionalism and expertise.

“That’s what’s enabled Dan and I to go ahead and retire,” Dick said. “You can never forget your employees.”

Email Dan Heath

dheath@pressrepublican.com