School bus service Johnson Bus announces pending sale
‘Difficult decision’ ends more than 77 years of family ownership

By Brianna Stubler

Feb. 12, 2019

A photo from the Johnson School Bus website detailing what one of the first school buses looked like. The company began in 1942 and was recently sold to a subsidiary of the Ozaukee and Washington counties Shared Ride Taxi service.
Submitted photo

WEST BEND  — Family-owned Johnson Bus, which started nearly eight decades ago with a milk truck and two logging trucks, recently announced intentions to sell its school bus service and is in the process of finalizing the deal.

The Johnson family released a letter expressing thanks for the local support.

"After more than 77 years of family ownership, the third generation has made the difficult decision to sell the family business," the letter said. "Like all business owners, there comes a time to retire and begin enjoying the benefits of a long, successful career."

The buyer is Landmark Transportation Services. Specialized Transport Services, also owned by Johnson, is being sold as well. STS provides shared-ride taxi service to Washington and Ozaukee counties.

"It’s been a difficult decision that comes after thoughtful deliberation and many sleepless nights," the letter said. "It has been our life’s work to provide safe transportation to the children entrusted to our care. We cherish the memories and the relationships that were built over the years."

Steve Johnson said the deal has not closed yet, but said he hopes it will in the next two to three weeks and will make an official announcement when it does.

According to its website, Aaron W. Johnson founded the company in 1942 with three converted trucks. Today the company has 11 terminal locations. They employ some 500 part-time and 50 full-time employees.

Driver Ken Brehmer of the Town of Trenton walks to his bus Monday afternoon
at Johnson School Bus Services in West Bend
John Ehlke/Daily News Staff

The company serves 14 school districts in southeast Wisconsin and is now in its third generation of ownership.

The family with keep the bus terminals, so they will remain involved.

Gina Johnson of Johnson Bus said she is very proud of her father, uncle Dan and aunt Judy.

"They’ve been dedicated to keeping the legacy of Johnson Bus going for 77 years, providing safe transportation to students in southeast Wisconsin and giving back to the community," she said. "I am so grateful that my great-grandpa started the company and provided this opportunity for generations of Johnsons."

It also gave her fond memories of her father.

"All my life I’ve known my dad to work for and lead the family business," she said. "If you know my dad, he likes to win — in card games, bike races — this difficult decision to sell the company is winning in life."