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The Takeover Story With Matt Johnson

by mjohnson, on Jul 24, 2018 2:08:43 PM

Now this is a story all about how
My life got flipped turned upside down...

Fresh Prince, anyone?


My Grandparents: The Original Industrial Entrepreneurs

It all started in 1948 when the beautiful Canadian daughter of Irish immigrants married a scrappy son of English immigrants in the lake country of Ontario, Canada. My grandparents, Ron & Veronica Johnson were the founders of several small ventures before entering the industrial supply world in 1958 when my grandfather became a salesman for Fibre-Metal (now Honeywell) hard hats and welding helmets.

Ron Johnson sales at Fibre Metal In 1958, Ron Johnson sold Fibre-Metal (Now Honeywell) Welding Helmets.


Safety Distribution Is In My Blood

In 1969, Ron & Veronica took a major leap of faith by opening their own safety equipment distribution business, Armour Protection Supplies, in the basement of their house in Georgetown, Ontario. While calling on industrial end-users, Ron noticed a need for custom safety signage and facility identification equipment, but the local sign guys were not up for the challenge. That gave him an idea...

Veronica Johnson and Dave Johnson at Armour Protection Supply Veronica and son (David) Johnson in 1969 at Armour Protection Supply.


In 1976, Ron & Veronica sold their distribution business, purchased some sign manufacturing equipment, and moved to Port Richey, Florida to open Accuform Signs. They invited their sons, David first and later Wayne, to move down and help them start the business.

Accuform startup in Spring Hill Florida Ron, Wayne, and David Johnson (and team) circa 1982 in Spring Hill, Florida.


Accuform: Inform, Protect, And Motivate The Global Workforce

Ron’s intuition was right. Industrial safety distributors eagerly partnered with him to deliver custom sign solutions to the Gulf Coast and later to the entire United States. Accuform moved to Hernando County, Florida, in 1982 and steadily grew under the budding leadership of my uncle, David (Dave) Johnson and my father, Wayne Johnson.

From left to right: Wayne Johnson (father), Dena Johnson (sister), John Murphy (brother-in-law), Veronica Johnson (grandmother), Ron Johnson (grandfather), Paul Johnson (cousin), and Dave Johnson (uncle) at the grand opening of 80K square foot facility in Brooksville, Florida in 2001.


Steady Growth And The Passing Of The Torch

In less than 20 years, Accuform had become the industry leader in custom identification products for the industrial safety market. Ron & Veronica retired in 1995 and turned over the reigns of the business to Wayne and Dave. Their parting words were jokingly, “don’t screw it up!”

Dave and Wayne did the very opposite.

They grew the small business into one of the most recognized brands in safety. Through tireless innovation, investment in technology, and a commitment to deliver world-class customer service, Accuform has grown into a thriving enterprise. Today, Accuform boasts an impressive catalog of over 100,000 safety and identification products that inform, protect, and motivate the global workforce.




The Prodigal Son Returns To The Family Business

Every story has conflict, and mine came early in life. After college and a failed golf career, I reluctantly joined the family enterprise my grandfather started and my father grew. Even though I was grateful for the opportunity, my heart’s desire was to create a legacy of my own. I was the prodigal son of a successful CEO and business owner, and upon my return in 2003, I was determined to earn my seat at the leadership table.

My ambition and drive led me through a series of experiences in various positions within the family business- from manufacturing, data-entry, and graphic design to management, marketing, and new product development. I excelled in each role and eventually was asked to join the Board of Directors.

Accuform Executive Team and spouses in 2013 celebrate Wayne Johnson's award for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.


Safety Marketing Transformation Begins

In 2014, during our strategic planning, the issue of Safety Marketing Services was brought up. Accuform’s sister company, founded in 2003, had atrophied over the years and was on the brink of permanently shutting down operations. It was in that meeting when the “entrepreneurial bug” first bit me. I asked them to let me "take over."

In 2015, I began the process of transformation from the ground up. My goal was to learn as much as I possibly could about digital marketing and then introduce these services to a traditional marketing agency and an industry that desperately needed them.

In 2018, the transformation had come full circle. We rebranded the company, calling our firm Spinstak - a full-stack growth agency. We had become more than safety, more than marketing, and more than services. We've been blessed with four years of double-digit growth under my management. But, it hasn't come without a cost. I've had my share of failed products and turnover. I've learned a lot in a short amount of time about winning and losing gracefully. 



Today, I’m still learning, transforming, and driving change for my own brand and others in our industry. Spinstak is the fastest-growing full-service marketing agency dedicated to industrial supply. By following my heart, I’ve learned that legacy is not a destination, it’s a lifestyle. One that stands the test of time.


Johnson Family Values

Faith, Family, and Friends -- Our faith is the most important thing in our lives. Our faith is in Jesus and nothing and no one else. Our relationship with each other is second only to our relationship with God. We are loyal, forgiving, and considerate with each other. We try hard to consider the needs of others before our own. We are lavish with our love and praise for one another and genuinely enjoy spending time together. We value a small circle of friends who we treat like family.

Work Hard, Play Hard, Together -- We value industry, hard work, and self-reliance because the world is a hard, relentless, and largely unforgiving place. The best way to care for others is to value and care for yourself. We believe that hard work is meaningless unless you can enjoy the fruit of your labor. We play, travel, try new things, get outside, and experience all of life's blessings together. We believe that nothing worth enjoying ever comes easy. We must work hard before we can play hard.

Grace, Gratitude, and Growth -- We believe that those who have been forgiven much, love much. Since we have been shown so much grace, we return the same grace and respect to everyone. Grace doesn’t mean we tolerate abuse or injustice, but it does mean we are quick to forgive. We reject entitlement, socialism, and legalism as radical and broken worldviews. We are grateful and satisfied with everything God has given us. This motivates us to grow, improve, and fail forward.

My family! Daughters Lucy (4), Darcy (8) and sons Asher (3), Kamryn (13) and wife, Brittany.


Personal Hobbies & Interests

Outside of work, I am a student of Protestant theology, culinary arts, and holistic health. I'm an avid reader, life-long learner, and scratch golfer. On the weekends, you can find me waiting in long lines in Orlando, throwing kids across the pool, grilling some grass-fed beef, enjoying a good vintage, or playing golf with friends. 

I'm also a fan of JRR Tolkien, Marvel Comics, Food & Travel Shows, and business/branding/marketing books. I don't have a favorite book or movie for the same reason I don't have a tattoo: my interests change too often! One thing that never changes is my passion for spending time with my beautiful bride of 12 years, Brittany, and our four children; Kamryn (13), Darcy (8), Lucy (4), and Asher (3).

The Takeover visited St. Andrews (Old Course) in 2018. Shot 1-over-par, 73 from the championship tees.



Out Of This Story Comes... The Takeover

How will the story end? The answer to that question is the purpose of The Takeover. Join me in my journey to honor the past, embrace the present, and build for the future. We will grow together.

Topics:Digital Marketing