This November, with best wishes and some sadness, we celebrate the retirement of a man who didn’t just work here at Imperial Systems: Bruce Johnson helped to build it.
When you ask Bruce to tell you about his accomplishments, he seems a little confused as to why you’d even ask him. He is quiet and humble, and I’m not sure he realizes how deeply he is respected or how deeply he will be missed.
Bruce came to Imperial Systems in January of 2008. On his first day, he was helping design a ductwork system. There were no offices, just a shop with dividers, and every project was a team project. These were early days for Imperial Systems as a company stepping into larger projects and new industries, and Bruce will tell you, with a smile, “It was definitely a team effort. We were all in it together.” Whether it was Jeremiah doing some welding or Joe Moore programming the plasma table or Charlie bringing his vast experience as a draftsman, everyone took whatever role was necessary to move forward.
It was nice to get offices, Bruce says, because then the engineers didn’t have to yell at each other. From small local jobs, he has moved to working on bigger systems, bigger and more elaborate ductwork, and new industries, like coal processing, grain, rubber, and wood dust. Bruce particularly remembers the Methuen project. “There were multiple floors in the building, really complex ductwork. It was a really great project to work on. Great learning experience.”
When you listen to Bruce talk about his time at Imperial Systems, two things stand out. One is his commitment to and love of learning: “If you don’t learn something new every day here, you must have been sleeping.” The other is a powerful sense of teamwork and sharing accomplishments with others. “We complement and balance each other,” he says. “As time went on we became more and more of a team. We depended on each other.” Bruce talks about his time at Imperial Systems as a time of team building, learning to build on each person’s skills, teaching each other, and becoming more skilled and more capable together than they could ever be on their own.
Bruce doesn’t talk about his own accomplishments as much as he talks, with great pride and affection, about how he and those around him grew together and built something great. He talks about the problems they solved, jobs that just kept growing, jobs that turned out to be more complicated than expected. He talks about how the company constantly moves forward, but what he doesn’t talk about is how necessary he was in making that happen. In his small, meticulously kept records, he counts 131 jobs he has worked on since 2013.
Jeremiah Wann doesn’t hold back when he talks about what Bruce has meant to the company and to him personally:
“Guys like Bruce are truly a dying breed. Good work ethic, pride in quality and workmanship today is really hard to come by. I have mixed feelings about his retirement. There is a part of me that wants to celebrate with him over his retirement but there is a huge part of me that wishes we could keep him forever. It’s a real life lesson for me in that, we have to train not only in skill but in work ethic and principles. Bruce has been one of my best all-time team members and I am really going to miss him. My biggest fear is that it’s going to be impossible to completely replace him.”
No matter how humble he is or how much credit he gives to those around him, Bruce has been a critical part of making Imperial Systems what it is and set an amazing example for all those who will take up his work after him. His work ethic and his willingness to celebrate the achievements of others makes Bruce a truly special person and he will be deeply missed.
All of us at Imperial Systems wish Bruce a wonderful, happy retirement. It is certainly earned and well-deserved.