Johnny’s Machine Shop will have a new owner when it celebrates its 50th anniversary next month.
Long-time “like family” employee Dale Horne officially took the reigns from Rob Basso, eldest son of shop founder Johnny Basso, last week.
This is the first time the shop hasn’t been owned by a Basso, but Rob said Horne has been working at Johnny’s for about 25 years and they consider him an extended member of the family.
“Dale started here when he was still in high school,” Rob told the Northern View on Wednesday, March 6. “He used to come down to the shop as a little kid with projects he was working on. He’s always been a mechanical fellow.”
Rob began working at the shop in 1980 after finishing university and in the early 90s he took over ownership from his father.
Now 62 and ready for retirement, Rob said he is thankful to have had such an obvious successor.
“I’m very lucky to have someone like Dale willing to step up and buy the place. I can’t think of a better person,” Rob said. “He’s a great machinist, he’s excellent at hydraulics, he’s an amazing electrician.”
“He’s good,” added Johnny.
While Horne technically took over on March 1, Rob said he will continue to help out for another year to ensure a smooth transition.
One thing on their to-do list is hiring a new machinist.
“We’re busy,” said Horne, adding that diversifying over the years has allowed them to survive economic lows, like fish plants and the pulp mill shutting down.
“About 10 years ago we became Flygt submersible pump distributors and that’s kept Dale pretty busy,” added Rob. “I’d say we’re short-staffed.”
Other than making a new hire, Horne said he doesn’t anticipate any major changes to the shop.
“We’re kind of a small shop and people like working with us,” Horne said. “We don’t want to change it too much.”
Rob said his mother wants to have a party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the shop next month, but plans are still in the works.
“Johnny started this business in April of 1969,” Rob said. “Him and my mom were working together, she did the books and dad ran the machine shop.
“That’s a long run in anybody’s books, especially in this modern age, to have a business around for 50 years. I’d say it’s a milestone to be sure.”
Johnny was born in Prince Rupert in 1928. He turned 90 in November.
As his eldest son eases into retirement, Johnny said he wishes he could go back to work.
“I wish I was younger so I could work again,” Johnny said. “I used to come in every day to pick up the mail and go to the bank. I’m kind of missing some of that stuff, darn it.”
Nowadays Johnny keeps busy with community volunteering, cutting firewood at home and gardening.
“I was busy all the time and I’m still busy,” Johnny said. “I don’t know when to stop.”