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Longtime WF business expands

Owners of Jemco-Maxair pictured during the celebration of their new building were, from left to right: Judi and Russ Johnson, Jed Johnson and son Jack and Dale Kartes.

Longtime West Fargo-based business Jemco-Maxair held a special ribboncutting recently signifying the completion of a 7,200 building expansion at their 1805 E. Main Ave. location.

Jemco-MaxAir is a family-owned electrical, mechanical sales and service company founded and operated by Howard “Russ” and Judi Johnson.

The company has built its reputation on providing top notch sales, service and repair on a broad range of equipment specializing in electric motors, generators, motor controls, and air compressors, all the while making customers their number one priority.

The business possesses a rich history dating back to the establishment of Jemco Electric Motor by Russ in 1980 in an empty service station on Main Avenue in Fargo.

The company quickly outgrew the service station facility and in 1983 moved into a larger location in West Fargo. At that time, the customer base was growing, and more employees were added to stay ahead of the growth rate

In 1985 the company expanded into air compressor sales and services, and also added a sales department.

A year later, the company experienced a devastating fire that consumed most of the business. Determined to keep moving forward Russ rebuilt the company and expanded the building for more functions.

In 1989 the company moved into an even larger facility, and further expanded the sales department, in doing so, increasing the coverage area to a more regional territory.

More recent additions include a 5000 sq. foot warehouse used for cold storage that includes a precision balancer, and a large burnout oven.

The new 7,200 square foot building is an all-repair facility used for service that houses both a three-ton and ten-ton bridge crane utilized like a monorail system to move product.

The million dollar investment was necessitated by the ongoing growth of the business with the project utilizing the city’s Renaissance Zone status to qualify for local and state tax savings.

Right now the business rests on 180,000 square feet of property which Russ said is a good location. “The service repair and sales facility is second to none in the area. With a highly accessible location on five acres, four service bays, a five ton bridge crane, precision balancer and the latest testing equipment, there is no other air compressor facility in the area, including Minneapolis, that has a motor repair facility located in the same building. This means faster turnover on repairs and lower repair costs for customers. We are very happy that we made this move to this location 30 years ago. We have built our company by establishing working relationships with our customers and by continually researching new technology to find better ways to solve the everyday problems our customers have with their air systems.”

Russ said that Jemco-Maxair now has the capability of handling 500 horsepower motors, and is also a UL listed panel board builder for motor controls.

Their client list is steadily growing due to increased irrigation systems in a six-state area; to oil field repair; to the lumber industry in eastern Minnesota; and to local manufacturing plants including American Crystal Sugar and Simplot.

“We have a full preventive, predictive maintenance crew to handle whatever the job,” Russ asserted, “whether it is pickup, delivery or service at their facility.”

As president of the company Russ is strictly hands-on in the family-oriented operation. Judi serves as CEO and CFO, with 30 years in accounting to her credit. Sons Jed and Josh are also key to the business. Jed, a certified air compressor service technician with 15 years of electric motor and air compressor experience serves as operations manager; while Josh is involved with sales and service of the UL listed panel boards possessing 20 years of experience.

Overall, the business employs 16 people, with two recently added thanks to the new addition and two more employees being sought.

Stating that the business was “built basically for next generation” the Johnsons are hoping to leave behind a legacy their children and grandchildren can continue to nurture and grow.

They also hold high regard for their other dedicated employees.”The future of our company is our employee’s,” Russ stated. “We are always investing into our company by investing into our employee’s education. By sending our employee’s to factory training sessions, and trade related seminars they are learning new technology and techniques that improve our customers systems efficiency and reliability.”

On that note, the business is open for service 24 hours, seven days a week.

Jemco-Maxair can be contacted at 701-282-2190 or 800-226-0362. More information is also avalable on thier website at