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History of JFI

In the 1920’s and 1930’s Carl Johnson, had a dray service in the Fairview, South Dakota area. He would deliver coal and other supplies to area farmers by horse and wagon and haul the farmer’s grain to elevators for marketing.

In the early 1940’s, Cliff Johnson, Carl’s son, started Johnson Feed in the small town of Fairview. Cliff would mix, grind, and sell chicken feed as well as running a chicken hatchery.

It was later expanded to include commercial feed for all types of livestock. Shortly thereafter, it was again expanded to include local trucking, as Cliff started with a single straight truck, and quickly added two more. He was hauling grain, feed, and livestock for local area farmers.

In 1954, Darvin Johnson, Cliff’s son, returned home from the Navy to run the family business. Darv continued to operate Johnson Feed as a commercial feed distributor, as well as the local trucking company. As the feed and trucking business grew, so did the requirements for building space. In 1963 Darv purchased a couple of lots in Fairview, including one of the lots with the old building that he was born in. The old buildings were removed, and a warehouse was built with a small office in it. The office was not much larger than the 2 desks in it, which sat side by side. Johnson Feed kept expanding its local trucking business more and more each year, eventually adding semi-tractors to the fleet of straight trucks. 

With his trucking knowledge, Darv decided he should have a truck over the road, long haul operation. Darv’s wife, Martha, became very involved in the business, keeping the books, billing, dispatching the trucks, etc. This proved to be worth the effort and before long; there were 5 tractors over the road. The Johnson’s operated out of this small office for 20 years, when in 1983, Darv’s sons started joining him in business, at which time they had to build additional office space across the street from their warehouse. By 1986 it had become a full family business, with Darv, Martha, and their sons. Each son had his own area of responsibility, whether it was dry van freight, reefer freight, buying and selling grain and salt, etc. The business continued to grow to the point of outgrowing their warehouse and office space in Fairview.

In 1993, Johnson Feed moved into their new warehouse, office, and shop in Canton, SD and the growth has continued ever since. The company now operates full service shops and wash facilities in Sioux Falls, SD, North Sioux City, SD, Vermillion, SD, and Waterloo, IA. JFI dispatches 200+ company trucks, 120 owner/operators, and 1000+ trailers to all areas of the country except the Northeast. Meat and ice cream continue to be the primary outbound product with various refrigerated and general commodities as backhauls. The "family" has grown to over 375 company employees.


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