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Prairie View Elementary students board a Johnson school bus Wednesday to head home for the night. The Johnson School Bus company is being sold to Canada-based Landmark Student Transportation. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

Johnson School Bus Service, a family-owned business for more than 77 years, is turning over the keys to a new owner.

The company is being sold to Landmark Student Transportation — a privately owned company based out of Canada, with U.S. headquarters in Dousman.

Landmark operates individually branded school bus companies in Idaho, Missouri, Oregon, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario. In Wisconsin, Dousman Transportation and Stratton Bus have been part of Landmark since 2015.

The sale is expected to be finalized by month’s end.

The Johnson family said it was a difficult decision to turn the reins over.

In a letter sent to area school districts and employees, the family wrote “It has been our life’s work to provide safe, efficient and quality transportation to the children in the communities we serve.”

Landmark will retain the Johnson Bus name, and the employee teams of office, shop, drivers and support staff are expected to continue in their current capacities at each location.

Aaron W. Johnson founded the bus service in August 1942 when he converted a milk truck and two logging trucks into West Bend’s first school buses. Under the direction of his children, Chuck and Dianne Johnson, the business expanded. Further growth occurred with Chuck’s children, Steve and Dan Johnson and Judy Holzmann, at the helm.

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The company currently has 11 terminal locations, including Beaver Dam and Horicon, serving 14 school districts in southeastern Wisconsin.

A total of 500 part-time and 50 full-time employees operate and maintain a fleet of 500 vehicles.

President Steve Johnson said he, Dan Johnson and Judy Holzmann will continue to support Landmark through the transition, and will stay on as advisers after this school year ends.

Debbie Rahn, a bus driver in Beaver Dam, said the Johnson company has been a wonderful employer.

“Their letter said they chose Landmark because it’s family-based, too, and they have a good reputation” she said. “We really need more drivers and I would recommend this job to anyone — I love it.”

The Johnsons said Landmark will continue its culture, identity and high standards.

Just like Johnson Bus, they value developing strong relationships with their school partners, employees and local communities.

Follow Kelly Simon on Twitter @KSchmidSimon or contact her at 920-356-6757.

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