Obituary: Jim Johnson, Chlor Rid Founder

MONDAY, JULY 24, 2017

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.

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; NA; North America; Obituaries; Personnel; Soluble salts; Surface Preparation; Surface preparation

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