How It All Started, the History of Johnny Blue

I once asked my boss, who also happens to be my friend, “how did Johnny Blue get started”.  Her response, “Johnny Blue started in 1974 by a man named John.  I was too young to remember the mention of his last name, when I would ask my grandfather.”  As the story goes, Kristen’s grandfather, Everett Emerson, an Army Veteran, purchased Johnny Blue in 1975, from John.  John thought he had made a mistake in starting the company, but Everett knew better!

Just who was Everett?

Everett Emerson was a husband, father, mechanic and laborer born in Morgantown, WV.  He knew, to support his family and make a name for himself he would have to do something others weren’t willing to do.  Portable toilets were a necessity and there wasn’t a lot of competition.  It seemed like a no brainer. On July 1, 1975, Johnny Blue opened its doors! (Fun fact- Kristen Bush, the current President, wasn’t even born yet).

From Their Home in Lake Holiday to a Metal Garage in Stonewall Industrial Park

When the doors first opened, Everett and his partner Lucy ran the business from their Lake Holiday home, in Cross Junction, VA. Eventually Johnny Blue moved to a one room, metal garage in the Stonewall Industrial Park, using an old school bus for TP and supply storage.  From the start Daniel, their 12-year-old son, began riding along to job sites. At age 16, Daniel left school and became a full-time service technician at Johnny Blue, cleaning, delivering and maintaining the units.  With an inventory of only 100 units, the Emerson family proudly served Frederick and Clarke Counties.

As the company grew, Lucy needed help in the office.  Not wanting to hire just anyone, the family decided to offer the position to Daniel’s then girlfriend, Judy Potter.  In 1989 Judy joined the company and after continuing to date Daniel for a couple more years in 1991, Judy and Daniel were married.

Through the Generations, Johnny Blue Grew!

Although Everett and Daniel had different management styles, in 1995, with 20 years’ experience under his belt, Daniel was elected Vice President. In 2000 Daniel became President, allowing Lucy and Everett to retire and enjoy their golden years.  The company grew to 6 employees and an inventory of about 700 units.

As a young child, Kristen Emerson, Daniel’s daughter spent many days riding around in the service truck with her dad. In 1998, Kristen officially joined the business, working half days and summer breaks until graduating high school in 2001.  Kristen continued her education at Lord Fairfax Community College, going to school full time and working 30 hours a week at Johnny Blue.  The first to earn a college degree in over 4 generations, she graduated college in 2003 with an associate degree in Business Management. In 2005 she was elected Secretary of Johnny Blue.

By 2008, Everett and Lucy were fully retired, leaving Johnny Blue to be operated by Kristen, her father Daniel and stepmother, Judy.  The company continued to grow.  In 2011, the company had 10 employees that included 2 office personnel, a yard person and the rest drivers.  That’s when tragedy hit the family and the company, with the sudden and unexpected death of Daniel Emerson.  Not only had Kristen lost her dad and Judy lost her husband, but the company lost their friend and leader.  Through a very hard time, Kristen was elected President and Judy Vice President.  Denny Feltner, having been with Johnny Blue for 5 years was promoted to Interim Operations Manager.

By 2012, Kristen was pregnant and knew she could no longer continue to work long hours and care for her baby on the way.  She needed balance between her growing family and the family business. In support of his wife, after 11 years of loyal service to William A. Hazel, Steven left his career joined the family business, trained under Denny and eventually became the Operations Manager.

Leaps and Bounds

Through the years, Johnny Blue has grown by leaps and bounds. We now have over 1700 Standard units, 122 handicap units, 18 VIP Flush, 109 free standing sinks and 13 restroom trailers.  And that doesn’t include our storage tanks, sani-stands, generators and site control barriers! Our inventory is constantly growing.

Johnny Blue now employees 22 people, including Kristen’s youngest sister, Sarah who handles social media and marketing and her middle sister Amy who is our Special Events coordinator. Steven and Kristen’s 9-year-old son can often be found in the yard washing units, driving the side by side or in the office proclaiming his future position in the company. Johnny Blue truly is family owned and operated.  And those employees who aren’t family by blood, are still part of the Johnny Blue family!