John had known for some time that sales was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his career; he missed the practical work. John’s Uncle Bill who owned the garage in the village of Whixley where Mr Johnsons nursery was and told him that Mr Johnson wanted to retire as he was now 67 and his wife 70. John expressed his interest.
During the summer of 1963, John and his wife Dorothy visited the nursery 16 times from Scotland. An agreement was made on Johns purchase of the business with the asking price being £18,000; John set about raising this amount, selling his and Dorothy’s house, getting a loan from his parents and grandparents loan and repayment after five years to Mr Johnson. Dorothy and John took over on May 1st 1964, and moved into a caravan on site.
At the time of purchase, Johnsons were producing 150,000 plants annually, employed just 11 full-time staff and had a turnover of £30,500.
Mr Johnson built a bungalow on the part of the nurseries land as part of the sale agreement and took great interest in what went on in the firm until he died in 1988.