Johno's journey

Keith Johnson celebrates 50 years at ATL

Monday, April 01, 2019

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The way a leader runs his company sets the precedence for the way it operates and the enthusiasm of those who work for him.

After five decades at Appliance Traders Limited (ATL), Keith “Johno” Johnson says the close knit team's bonds and the charismatic, can-do attitude of the company's chairman, Gordon “Butch” Stewart have kept him in sync.

“I've spent most of my life working for ATL simply because I've always been happy. Mr Stewart has always been a hands-on leader and you want to work with someone who is inspired and motivates you to achieve,” shared Johnson.

Johnson joined ATL not long after the company was officially incorporated in 1968, filling the post of junior technician. His work ethic and tenacity made him an immediate standout and he was quickly embraced as part of the family.

“Mr Stewart gave me the nicknames 'Johnny' and 'Johno' which was his way of welcoming me to the ATL team. We were all very close and looked out for each other,” shared Johnson.

His eyes twinkle with excitement as he recalls travelling extensively across the island to execute installations. “We would travel out of town for days, weeks or even months at a time. We would leave from Kingston to Port Antonio then to Montego Bay and back to the city. Mr Stewart himself would come on site to take part in assisting us,” says Johnson.

After only three months as a junior technician, “Johno” was promoted to manager of the ATL Workshop then located at Marescaux Road. Three months after that, he was given the additional task of managing the capital warehouse.

His work ethic and skill set were remarkable, but his most valuable asset was his ability to adapt and learn quickly. Between 1978 and 1988 he was transferred to ATL's Merchandising Department and would eventually become the Merchandising Department manager at the flagship location on Half-Way-Tree Road.

Johnson's expertise and knowledge served as the impetus in the 1990s to spearhead the formulation of ATL's Hose & Belts Division and its subsequent merger with the Spare Parts Department to become the ATL Tech Centre.

In 2001, the ATL Tech Centre was renamed ATL Parts Plus — a division that catered mainly for technicians, do-it-yourself enthusiasts and workmen. Johnson was assigned the role of assistant showroom manager — a position which he still holds.

“My job is to assist customers with technical queries as well as keep track of stock. At Parts Plus we have about 32,000 product and service identification codes that I can reel off from memory,” Johnson says with a broad, proud smile.

Today, he is a mentor to young technicians and teaches them about the power of relationships. “ATL is built on values and many of those values begin with treating everyone like family,” he says. “You also have to be proud of something to represent it. In the '60s, we had the very first set of branded vehicles and they were the best kept in the country. Personal pride is a big part of what the ATL brand stands for,” Johnson reveals.

He also trusts in the power of seizing opportunity. “There is scope for growth in whatever you do if you are willing to do a little hard work. Every job takes you through a university of sorts — find someone to emulate, always keep an open mind and make a plan to be a little better each day,” he advises.

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