A Midwest Transition

Dale Johnson III is new owner of midwest supply; no major changes planned

Johnson: Keeping business under local control a must

By Per Peterson

Dale Johnson III

If Dale Johnson III didn’t know how important Midwest Supply was to the city of Tracy before, he does now.

When rumors spread that Johnson was buying out Midwest Supply owner Ken Schiller, he was approached by a Tracy resident who he said told him, “If this town would lose Midwest Supply, you could just as well fold up the town.”

“I’ve heard that from a lot of different people,” Johnson said. “There are customers from 20, 30 miles away that are devoted customers — to not have this, you start sending people out of town.”

Johnson, a 1997 graduate of Tracy Area High School who owns his own construction business, officially took over at Midwest Supply on Oct. 1 from Schiller, who took over at Midwest Supply in 1993.

“I’m just glad we were able to put something together to keep the store in town, keep the jobs in town,” Johnson said.

Schiller said he had the opportunity to sell to a large chain, but said keeping the business under local control is important — not just to the residents, but to himself as well.

By running the business on a local level, “I can react to the situations in the area a lot quicker, because I don’t have to answer to a buyer that buys for 30 stores that’s gonna put in what he thinks is gonna sell in 30 locations — I can say to the customer, ‘Yah, I can get that for you’ — 28 years ago when I took over, that was my niche, and it still is today,” he said.

Schiller said part of maintaining his business has been his ability to foster relationships between himself and his customers and knowing their needs.

“I’ve given them that little extra that they can’t find someplace else,” he said. “Years ago, no one knew where to take power tools to get them fixed, and we provided that — for DeWalt, Milwaukee. They walk into a box store, nobody’s got the responsibility to follow that chain through. If somebody’s got a drill that needs repair, they’re gonna say, ‘Well, we can’t do that.’”

Schiller has a deep respect for the residents of Tracy and those from communities around Tracy. He said his customers have always been there for him and his business, which has afforded him the structure to survive tough times. Knowing that, he has always found pleasure in being there for them.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.