Rod and Lorraine Johnson celebrate 45 years by paying it forward
Lorraine and Rod Johnson are pillars in the Barrhead community, with good reason. In 1973, the Barrhead UFA Petroleum Agency was also home to the local auto body business ran by Rod's father, Fred. Rod became part of the family business when he began his career driving the fuel truck. Soon after, he took his auto body license and began working in the auto body shop.
The couple will be celebrating their 37th wedding anniversary this Christmas. Of those 37 years, 34 have been spent working alongside one another at the agency and on their farm. If that wasn't enough of an accomplishment, they have also raised three grown children who are all pillars of their respective communities in their own right. Their oldest son Shawn is married to Melanie. They live on an acreage north of Sherwood Park and have boys Ethan, Eli and Kane. "They are extremely busy with school and hockey of course that goes without saying!" says Lorraine.
"Our daughter Nicole, or 'Coco' as we call her, is married to Jeff and they also have three children: Addy, Lily and Dean. They live in Edmonton and are also busy with their kids in afterschool activities."
"Our youngest Byron just married in September to his long-time girlfriend Nicole and together they have two little boys Trey and Rogan. They live at Carvel Corner near Spruce Grove."
Rod and Lorraine operate a cow/calf operation with about 175 head, by themselves. They produce all of their own feed for their livestock and have been proudly farming together throughout their married life. Lorraine jokes that even though none of their kids want to take over the farm, or the agency, she doesn't hold it against them. "Maybe they're the smart ones," she laughs.
What's the secret to happily working together all these years? Lorraine says that the best part is making their customers happy. "Knowing that our customers are taken care of and satisfied at the end of the day is extremely rewarding."
Phil Cutts, UFA Petroleum Area Manager says, "In my 11 years working with Rod and Lorraine, it is very obvious when you are on site at the agency that these two agents know their members and customers personally. It seems that everyone who comes in has a warm chat and a laugh, and that is the kind of relationship that has always made UFA special. Agents like Rod and Lorraine live right in the communities they serve, and they truly are an important part of the fabric of their communities."
Rod and Lorraine are both extremely humble. They were not interested in a big celebration for their 45th year agent anniversary. Instead they simply wanted to make a donation back to the community. They both believe that it's their responsibility to give back to the people that have given so much to them.
When UFA Delegate Lonnie Brown heard about the Johnson's decision to make charitable donations back to the community, he too was motivated to get involved by contributing a $500 donation to the cause bringing the total donation up to $5,000.
Lorraine says, "With a total of $5,000 it wasn't easy to decide which charities to give to, I stewed on that for a few months."
The couple chose to give to several charities with whom they felt aligned with their values. Their donation went to support Family and Community Support Services, which offers many programs to enhance the community; the CARE program which supports children who are registered in sports but who cannot afford the fees; the Food Bank, supporting those who cannot get by on their monthly salaries alone; and finally, Thrive, which helps abused women in relationships.
Lorraine spent 16 years giving back as an Auxiliary R.C.M.P. in the community and she says that although she doesn't have the time to volunteer like she used to, this was one way of ensuring the programs that needed it most, received the funding.
Lorraine adds that the success of a business is also achieved by the staff that you employ. "My girl Friday, Lori Fraedrich, has been with us for over 20 years. Our last driver retired from our agency and was also employed for over 20 years. We owe them a debt of gratitude and appreciation for their commitment to our success."
Even though they didn't want to be in the spotlight, Lorraine and Rod Johnson are shining examples of what it means to be community builders. From giving back to local charities, to raising children who are involved in their respective local communities, to providing exceptional customer service for decades, the Johnson's have continuously made a positive impact and fostered a culture of reciprocity. Congratulations to Lorraine and Rod, not only on their UFA Petroleum Agent anniversary, but for making a difference in their local community for over 45 years.