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Johnson: I did not sell to port authority

Published: Thu, January 20, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m.

By D.A. Wilkinson



David Johnson was not pleased with news accounts that his company was sold to the Columbiana County Port Authority.

In a statement this week, Johnson told his workers that Summitville Tiles was working with the port authority in securing federal funds for the demolition of the tunnel kilns and driers at the company’s closed Summitville facility.

Johnson explained that Summitville Tiles has entered into an agreement that would allow the port authority to buy the facility, have the work done, and then return it to Summitville Tile.

Johnson said Summitville Tiles did not “sell out” to the port authority.

A grant that would pay for the work has not been approved.

Johnson said the port authority has exclusive access to the grant process.

Tracy Drake, the chief executive officer for the port authority, said Wednesday that the work would cost about $750,000.

Johnson said the company will take back the property if the grant is denied or when the work is completed.

The 2004 restructuring plan adopted by Summitville Tiles included the closure of the company’s North Carolina manufacturing site and the consolidation of all of it’s Ohio quarry and brick manufacturing operations into its Pekin, Ohio, plant. That left the Summitville plant idle. The company also reduced the number of products it manufactures from 10,000 items to 2,500 items.


1timOthy(802 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Johnson said:" the company will take back the property if the Grant is denied or when the work is completed ." Republican Wizard Our local paper said you sold plant for a dollar to Port Authority . Which is a legal sale. Johnson you explain that you want to take advantage of port to get Asbestos Kilns Removed from said plant. Which I feel is wrong period ! Why should a Government Body buy a plant with Taxpayers dollars and the sell it back to a QUESTIONABLE Business at a loss to the Tax payers ?? And don't give me the CRAP of him hiring people for that Summitville Plant once the Tax Payer bails this fool out. We all have heard that before. Just like when Johnson hears through the Grapevine that his employees are going to Organize and form a Union. He fires them ! Not to mention the DEATHS that have been associated with said plants. Which brings me to this Great Republican Wizard. If the Tax payers Dollars are involved with purchasing of said Summitville Plant after KILNS are removed I want to buy it from the Columbiana Port Authority ! Once you sell something esspecially to ANY GOVERNMENT it has to go through and OPEN BIDDING PROCESS Period. That's the Law Wizard ! Or are you trying to break the Law or adjust it to YOUR WELL BEING !

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Johnson is a Republican until it comes to taking and asking for tax dollars - than he becomes a Democrat!

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3ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

If government mandates something, government should pay for it!

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4walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago


You raise the question about who is filling hte void and it is cheap imports from China. When I was selecting my new kitchen floor tile 15 years ago, I investigated many types. The cheap stuff made overseas had a pattern lasered on to the tile and glazed. but, the Summitville tile was a thick refracted layer on the top. I chose the Summitville product and have never regretted it. A superior product, made in NC, and it looks the same as the day I put it in.

Summitville is just another example of an American company that has difficulty competing on the world stage because of the regulations. Asbestos is unfairly maligned because it was an amazing insulation material when there were no other. If left alone, it is harmless. Only when it becomes friable does it pose a hazard.

Sooner or later, these government agencies will totally destrot every basic manufacturing industry in the US.

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5300(573 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

I've only read a few articles about this Johnson guy, but he seems like a pretty disingenuous person.

1. Railing against horrible socialism and marxist Democrats because of the stimulus plans, but then waiting with his hands out when it comes to his own mismanagement and failings.

2. Complaining previously about cheap imports, while not supporting the Democrats efforts in the 90's to block NAFTA. Free trade when it favors him, preferential treatment when he's in the other position.

3. Making 10's of thousands of dollars of political contributions, some through his company, to various Republicans (all available online to see). All the while, going bankrupt previously and now trying to get the tax payer to fund improvements that were his responsibility to begin with. He made the profits while polluting, but now doesn't want to have to assume the costs as well.

4. Had the gall to gall to seek Wilson's assistance with that one military contract, but even managed to still take political swipes at him in the same article.

I'd wish the Vindicator would stop covering this guy from down in Columbiana County. They even referred to him as a "prominent business leader" in a previous article. He's no more than a guy who's never apparently held a job that wasn't given to him by his father, and has an almost fetish-like addiction to politics and political grandstanding.

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6JME(802 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

"Wonder if the State EPA or Federal EPA required this asbestos kiln replacement?"

I don't know if it is now, but before 2004 it wasn't required. I worked at an older plant that had multiple furnaces, some of which were made with asbestos. At one point, one of the furnaces required a rebuild to make it operational. Since we didn't need the capacity, it was left out of operation without removing the asbestos. The reason it wasn't rebuilt was because of the cost to remove the asbestos.

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7JME(802 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

"Sooner or later, these government agencies will totally destrot every basic manufacturing industry in the US."

Incidently, the plant I mentioned was eventually closed because of the cost to operate. Two of the high costs were directly related to the EPA and OSHA. Labor and utilities also contributed to the demise.

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8mabellyne(12 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

This article and the responses to it demonstrate what is causing problems on a national scale.

Some people (liberals, socialists, democrats - label them however you like) want to spend government dollars for the benefit of the majority. They support government spending for programs that feed, house and provide health care for those who need it and make life easier for working families.

Other people (conservatives, elitists, republicans - label them how you wish) support government spending for programs that help keep businesses afloat and provide protection against percieved social threats.

We need a little of both types to keep our country healthy both socially and economically. It's called bi-partisianship.

The problem is that both types of people are being duped and exploited by self-serving individuals with financial and political power.

For a company/business owner to take advantage of government funds this way is disgusting. A person or entity that milks the corporate welfare cow is just as dishonest and damagaing to our country as third-generation welfare cheat. However the company costs more and causes more far-reaching damage.

The core of the problem seems to be that business owners just can't accept that the profits of most businesses are not going to reward them with the riches of Bill Gates and the leaders of corperate monopolies of past generations. They use their money to buy political power and sway public opinion.

Before you complain about "those people" in other countries taking our jobs think about this: Do you want to live like them? Do you want to work for a wage that barely pays for food and inadequate housing?

Not so very long ago the common workers banded together in unions and fought hard against the unfairness of the corporate leaders. They gained certain rights, like a forty hour work week, insurance benefits and pensions. They did not ask for, nor gain anything that would have caused a business to fail. They only wanted less for them and a little more for the rest of us. It worked for a while.

As soon as the wealthy owners and investors saw a dip in profits they jumped ship.They closed their plants and moved the jobs to places where the average citizens had no voice and few rights. Their plan backfired. Our elected representatives failed us by not imposing tariffs and penalties on the products these companies imported. That would have kept the businesses that stayed in the USA competitive.

Now fewer people can afford the products and services the companies are offering. These same wealthy bussiness types, again seeing a dip in profits, are asking the government to bail them out. Meanwhile, the blame is all being placed on the poor and working class. They are scorned for wanting a little more for themselves.

All because some greedy big shots couldn't be satisfied with ENOUGH profit. They think they deserved opulence.

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9James_S(268 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Agree whole-heartedly with censoredship and Walter on this one.

You can thank the EPA and their "Superfund" for this.

Superfund is the common name for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), a United States federal law designed to clean up sites contaminated with hazardous substances. Superfund created the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and it provides broad federal authority to clean up releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment. The law authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify parties responsible for contamination of sites and compel the parties to clean up the sites...

I'm surprised Summitville lasted this long with their asbestos-lined furnaces.

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10300(573 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

I agee, James. I too hate it when companies are forced to clean up their own messes.

The only people who should have to be held accountable, in my opinion, are those marxist school teachers.

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111970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

In case anyone cares about the truth/facts:

1. Dave Johnson did not file personal bankruptcy, the company did.

2. Instead of just liquidating the company and walking away, Dave Johnson invested his personal assets to save the company, and the jobs of the people who work there.

3. Johnson has had several opportunities to sell off the company. He has not.

4. He opened the new plant and created hundreds of new jobs. He did not realize his own govt. would try to put him out of biz.

5. The reason they had to close the new plant was the imports from China/Mexico were killing the company. It was either close the new plant or go under.

6. Charlie Wilson accomplished exactly zero in regard to the tile at the military base. Same as the rest of his time in office. ZERO! (I am sure there are plenty of GOP congressman with same poor record as Charlie).

7. Johnson has been VERY outspoken against NAFTA-GATT-CAFTA-WTO & free trade with China. It is rare, actually unheard of, for someone to buck their own party as he has. refreshing, too.

8. The govt. SHOULD give something back to Summitville Tile. It was the govt. that has caused the vast majority of their problems. Johnson just refused to lay down and die. He actually has continued fighting for his company and his country.

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12republicanRick(1716 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Polyair in Ytown closed and operations moved to Kentucky because onerous EPA Ohio regulations cost them around $ 150,000 per year, just enough to tip the advantage to Kentucky which is not as stringent.

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13InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

"The govt. SHOULD give something back to Summitville Tile" -- Except it isn't the Government, it's my tax dollars that he's ripping off!

If he wants the locals to foot his bills, then he should start a non-profit for himself. I pay too many taxes already and its cheap jerks like this who are the reason. IF the business is feasible, then he better get himself some local investors to go in to do the update. Otherwise, it needs to be leveled. I'm sick of paying corporate welfare for rich kids who run their business into the ground then want us taxpayers to foot the bill to bail them out!

It isn't like the problems with asbestos were just discovered last year... the problems have been known for decades... instead of budgeting to fix it, he's dumping it on us taxpayers and expecting us to hand it back to him afterwards?

I say that if he sold it to the port authority, then that's it. It's sold. Once it's cleaned up, the port authority needs to put it up for sale starting at $750k to cover what we (taxpayers) put into it.

This is beyond sick and disgusting. This is why the deficit is through the roof, because everyone and their brother thinks the government should give them a handout to cover their poor decisions.

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14InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Johnson is just like the steel mills 30 years ago... they didn't want to invest in updating their operations and now their gone. If Johnson didn't want to invest in his business than why should I as a tax payer be FORCED to pay for it?

I have no problem with the fact that some one finally forced him to quit endangering the workers' (and neighbors'?) lives with his kilns, Maybe we should just sell credits to business owners so they can kill off a certain number of employees and neighbors each year and not have to comply with EPA or OSHA.

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15James_S(268 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Hey Columbiana-

Pretty soon your government is going to tax you for the CO2 you're exhaling- it's a "greenhouse gas" you know... a bunch of hot air.

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16James_S(268 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Hot air that's contributing to "global warming".

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17InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

@censoredship - I AGREE - the port authority should stay out of it and let him clean up his own mess.

The RECENTLY enacted EPA run-off regulations were funded... I know farmers that got grants to address the problems on their farms... but addressing the problems won't be funded for the next 20 years... people need to either clean up now (funding is only for the first 5 years after the enactment) or their on their own when they get busted....

Asbestos has been known to be a health hazard since the 1930s, it's been regulated since 1990, it isn't banned unless it gets airborn... so if they had to clean up, that's because it is getting airborn somehow... so again, if they weren't maintaining their kilns, that is THEIR problem... and to be honest, if they're a superfund site, they probably have the entire place contaminated not just the kilns.


10,000 die annually, it is NOT banned in the US but IS banned in other countries.

This all comes down to a business owner who didn't manage his business equipment and now wants the tax payer to foot the bill to clean it up... if he'd have jumped on this issue in the 1990, he could have had workers shoveling the stuff into the air, because early abatement efforts were worse than the original problem... people were throwing tiles out 2nd story windows into dumpsters... Instead he played the waiting game until the abatement cost an arm and a leg... so, again... that is HIS problem, not mine.

If you think paying to clean up his mess doesn't add to the deficit, you're math skills are pretty bad...

if you want to pay to clean up his mess, then I suggest that you contact him and offer to partner up with him, but I have no interest in funding a company that has already shown poor judgement.

So I agree completely, the port authority should stay out of it.

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18borylie(946 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

maybellyne, Your premise is okay,except the government does more to create more and more people needing to be fed,housed and provided for and does less to help companies stay competitive with countries that don't have the same regulations,restrictions,unions and taxes that the USA imposes on our companies. You can't keep providing for the needy when companies aren't profitable and can't employ and pay their share of the taxes that provide.

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191970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Other businesses have benefitted from this program, so why shouldn't Summitville Tiles?

The $$ isn't going to Dave Johnson to buy stuff for himself, it is going to employ people.

This is a relatively small project with easily seen rewards and it is not pie in the sky stuff.

We need this type business/govt interaction, not stuff that will NEVER happen like billion dollar steel plants in Campbell, blimp factories, DFAS centers, etc, etc.

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20timOthy(802 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

300 and In Columbiana , I Agree with your comment and truths 110%. These KILNS with Asbestos have made the COMPANY PROFIT .Correct ? Why doesn't the COMPANY need to use OUR money then ? Dave Johnson is what most of these articles saying ! Son of Pete Johnson who was a small owner of Summitville Tile . It was Fred Johnson that owned the plant and took extremely good care it and his employees with his IDEA of profit sharing. In the mid-eighties there were employees retiring with 6 digits ! Which I feel Uncle Fred was just that . A good uncle ! Then his Brother Pete bought in with Genuis Dave and his mouth running said plant and the Profit Sharing disappeared. Then Bankruptcy ! So Genuis Dave Went whoring around and brought in a German Tile Company to keep his head above water. Things were going well . The the next thing I knew Dave Johnson owned it ! Dave your a Buffoon ! You had a plant and hard working people and lost it all with your Greed. And as I commented once. You sell to the State of Ohio.There is a Bidding process that goes on to retain said building and property. And I want to bid on building . You can keep your Lake that's full of lead . Or have you forgot about what EPA said about you dumping waste into it ! SAVVY !

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21InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

My question is still not answered. Why am I (a Tax Payer) footing the bill for Johnson's stupidity? The laws changed and Johnson didn't invest in his own company to keep up.

Why am I the Tax Payer footing Johnson's bill after he's already bankrupted it -- meaning that he stiffed all the people that plant owed money to... do you think it makes sense to put 3/4 million into a guy who's stiffed everyone that that plant owned money to? Especially when that probably includes other Columbiana companies who did business in good faith? Talk about a welfare hand out!

If they want to rent the plant back to anyone, it should be rented back to an employee owned group, NOT to the same Johnson who ran it into the ground.

Regarding the other companies who got the same type of welfare hand out, I wasn't around before or I would have the same issues with those if they were given right back to the same people that ran them into the ground. But because we've pilfered the taxpayer to benifit other idiots doesn't make it right that we continue to do it.

At $300/month, there is no reason that a group of experienced employees can't get together, rent the place and bring it back into production. Are they being given the opportunity to compete for this rental or is it only available to the same guy that didn't maintain it and bankrupted it in the first place?

There's no reason an employee owned group can't get seed capital (loans) from the Small Business Administration to lay in supplies and rebuild a viable company that will benifit the community.

Hopefully there is a group in the community that will read this and get together and take up this lease... you could make it something that is good for everyone involved.

Johnson is a cheap welfare queen if he takes tax payer money like that. Why should we, the tax payers, getting shafted because he ran the family business into the ground?

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22timOthy(802 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Censorship and Columbiana, Why don't we all contact the State Grants Department and tell them we want to bid on said Plant for two dollars and keep the price going up and up?? I know come Monday I'm going to call the Port Authority and the State.I love this County. And these INSIDE DEALINGS break my heart. There's another thing that smells in our County and that's Buckeye Water. They (Commisioners) were giving the Private Company County Insurance which was just recently taken away ! But the Buckeye Water Boys are still running around with State and County Plates which makes ALL of us responsible for their actions ! Which aren't too honest ! I'll let you know what I find out for sure from the Port and State. Is any body responsible in Columbiana County ??

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23Bigben(1996 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Censoredship -Your on the money with post 4. The only exception I would take with what you said is the "level playing field".

I would like to see the U.S. back on top. I don't think that is likely do to the whores in Washington that have in the past and continue to sell us out to the corporatist (globalist) scum.

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24timOthy(802 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

As I said people I did speak to Port Director Drake and thanked him for talking to me ,but did not AGREE with his Logic one bit . He thinks this will help bring jobs to the County and get Columbiana citizens working . Which it may , but I'm very doubtful and know this is a joke. I asked to bid on said building after we the people buy it . His reply was I have other buildings for sale beside the Summitville plant . Really ! What happened to the DREAM of these buildings ? He also thinks people don't like Johnson and have an axe to grind with Socialistic Republican ! When that's not the reason at all ! It's called fare and equal bidding Drake ! Not under hand dealing which is going on here ! I'm keeping my eye on the PRIZE and am not backing away from a principal that Johnson is using the American people after that Company made a good profit from said kills . Rich boy wants us to keep him above water while he figures out his next scheme to support his family and well being !!

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