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Obituary: Jim Johnson, Chlor Rid Founder

Monday, July 24, 2017

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Jim Johnson, a pioneer in the field of soluble salt testing and removal and founder of Chlor Rid International Inc., passed away June 20 at his home in Yaak, Montana at age 75.

Jim Johnson
Courtesy of the Johnson family

Jim Johnson, one of the founders of Chlor Rid International and a pioneer in the detection and mitigation of soluble salts in surface preparation, passed away June 20 at the age of 75.

Born James R. Johnson in Chicago in 1942, Johnson owned a lumber yard in Montana and worked as a coating contractor before working on the development of Chlor Rid’s testing and mitigation technology for soluble salt contamination starting in the early 1990s.

Soluble Salts Start

Johnson’s involvement with soluble salts, an issue that was largely unknown at the time, began, son Jason Johnson says, when he was working on a contract for Allied Signal.

“They were getting failures, and the failures were due to soluble salt [contamination],” Jason explains. “It became really apparent to them: Unless you’re going to get lab test results, how are you really going to tell what’s on the surface [to be coated]?”

That pushed Johnson to work with his business partners on patented detection technology for soluble salts, in an effort to provide lab-quality testing in the field.

“He decided that this was a huge market,” Jason, who also works for Chlor Rid, explains. “There was a huge potential for this product.” The cost of testing and mitigation of soluble salts was “cheap compared to an actual failure.”

In addition to test kits, Chlor Rid expanded to carry related products, including soluble salts removers and surface passivators.

'Straight Shooter'

Longtime friend Wayne Senick, president and technical director for Termarust Technologies, remembers Johnson as a "straight shooter" who helped him to understand and address the issue of soluble salts—including chlorides, sulfates and nitrates.

"He told the truth," Senick says. "He told everybody the truth every day, whether they wanted to hear it or not. He said, 'This is what it is. It's your choice to do it or not to do it.'"

“The first 10 years was a struggle,” Jason notes. “It was an uphill battle for 10 years getting salts to be recognized as a problem.” While some in the industry still express skepticism on the issue, contamination by chlorides and other soluble salts is more widely accepted today. “In the past five years, most everybody out there knows about salts-induced coating failures,” Jason says.

"In his retirement he felt satisfied that what he started isn't going to die," Senick says. "There's enough proof out there.

"I guess 'positive perseverance' is what I would say was one of the qualities that I respected most in him," he adds. "His positive perseverence and dedication to the truth."

Later Years

After living in Arizona for about two decades and setting up Chlor Rid’s headquarters in Chandler, Johnson returned to Montana eight years ago. He was still heavily involved in the business, Jason says, and “only in the past two to three years was he really semi-retired.” Even then, he was only a phone call away and still played a big role at the company.

In addition to being a pioneer in his field, Johnson was an avid hunter and supporter of the second amendment, Jason says. “He was an avid protector of the Constitution and our right to bear arms.”

Johnson was also generous with charity, setting up a fund to help out victims of Hurricane Katrina and supporting causes including St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. In the 1970s, when Johnson owned a lumber yard that was making millions, his daughter was stricken with cancer, and he spent a great deal of money on medical bills before she went into remission.

In addition to Jason, Johnson is survived by son Douglas Johnson and daughter Laurie Johnson, as well as a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Tagged categories: CHLOR*RID International; Chlorides; Obituaries; Personnel; Soluble salts; Surface preparation

Comment from Gunnar Ackx, (7/24/2017, 1:06 AM)

My most sincere condolences to the family as well as the entire Chlor-Rid team. Jim has been a long time (mostly online) friend and peer and I have also had the pleasure of meeting with him in person. Always ready to help anyone, anywhere he could... I'm sure he will be missed dearly by many. RIP Jim and rest assured that the coatings industry is a 'cleaner and better' place thanks to you!

Comment from Eugene Doerr, III, (7/24/2017, 6:44 AM)

Very sorry to hear of the loss. It seemed to me that Jim was everywhere. His presence will be missed.

Comment from Benjy Abbott, (7/24/2017, 8:42 AM)

RIP Jim. It was a pleasure knowing you over the years. Many a phone call talking to you about Soluble Salts. Thank You for your contributions to the industry. Would have loved seeing you shoot that big cannon. Condolences to all of the family and Friends.

Comment from Warren Brand, (7/24/2017, 10:21 AM)

Very sorry to hear about Jim's passing. He invited me up to his place in Montana. I'm sorry I never went. Condolences to all who knew him.

Comment from William Feliciano, (7/24/2017, 10:31 AM)

An amazing person. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Comment from Gregory Berg, (7/24/2017, 1:53 PM)

Sorry to hear the news. I met him at a NACE conference and he was definitely excited about soluble salt mitigation. Rest in peace.

Comment from Gary O'Connor, (7/24/2017, 2:00 PM)

Jim was very gracious when asked to speak at our SSPC meetings and was a treat to converse with. He will be missed.

Comment from WAN MOHAMAD NOR WAN ABDUL RAHMAN, (7/25/2017, 1:51 AM)

An icon in the industry.

Comment from Daniel Decker, (7/25/2017, 7:33 AM)

Jim was a true professional and friend to all in the coatings industry. He will be missed.

Comment from Norman Petticrew, (7/27/2017, 9:21 AM)

Thanks to all of you for the kind words and memoirs of Jim. We at the CHLOR RID family appreciate your heart-felt respect towards him.

Comment from David Johnson, (7/27/2017, 3:55 PM)

I spoke with Jim on several occassions. He helped us greatly. I'm sorry to hear of his passing and extend my sympathies to the family and colleages.

Comment from James Prevatt, (7/31/2017, 8:35 AM)

Jim was always a wealth of information regarding salt mitigation. I have 48 years in the corrosion business and know his product works saving pre-mature re-painting where salts are present. He was as stated strait forward and very truthful. Some still do not embrace the salt story even in the mountain of evidence to its detriment to coatings applications. The industry has lost a pioneer and a good man. Condolences.

Comment from trevor neale, (7/31/2017, 10:32 AM)

Jim was a true pioneer , absolutely no swagger, a hardworking person dedicated to his convictions that many coating failures originated from surface contamination that had been ignored for many years until he decided to act on the need develop and promote the Chlor Rid Technology.. Rest in Peace Jim.

Comment from Doug Johnson, (7/31/2017, 12:50 PM)

I would like to thank all of you for your thoughts and condolences. Dad truly loved the industry and the professionals in it. He enjoyed working/talking with all of you. We appreciate all of your heart felt memories. Again thanks to all of you, God Bless Doug Johnson

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