In 1946, Donald B. Johnson and Warren Thomas opened the doors of Thomas & Johnson Scale Service in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, where there was a growing demand for scale service from creameries and cheese processing enterprises. Their founding principal remains the same today: "Take care of the customer and the rest of the business will take care of itself."
In the late 1950s, scale dealers were in dire need of scale repair parts. Donald B. fostered the idea of refinishing old pivots and bearings so customers would not have to wait for new parts to be manufactured. He purchased a large quantity of WWII ammunition boxes and sent them to people he met at national scale conferences, offering to refinish any scale parts sent back in the ammunition boxes for fifty cents apiece. They were guaranteed a two- to three-day turnaround. Soon, word of this new approach to solving the parts shortage problem spread throughout the country.
Thomas & Johnson published their first Pivot & Bearing Catalog displaying eighteen sizes of pivots and bearings and advertising a 35 percent savings compared to the same parts offered by the original manufacturer.
Donald B. opened his first National Conference hospitality suite. He welcomed everyone to the suite and treated them to Wisconsin cheese and sausage. Donald B.'s hospitality suite became a tradition at the National Conference and continues to be a welcoming destination today.
In 1971 Thomas & Johnson Scale Service became Rice Lake Bearing, Inc.
In the mid 1970s, Donald B. saw that the United States was considering conversion to all metric measurements and realized his scale distributors would need new metric counterpoise weights. Always staying ahead of the curve, he began including test weights in the company repertoire. With an advanced metrology lab and expertise in the field, the company became a major supplier of precision test weights and recalibration.
In 1981, Donald B. and his son, Mark Johnson, Sr., became the sole owners of Rice Lake Bearing.
During the 1980's, the Johnsons built on their company's position as a parts supplier to the weighing industry by including electronic parts and components in their catalog. They felt the same commitment made to the mechanical scale business should be made to the electronic scale industry. "Service, selection and speed" became a slogan the entire industry welcomed and depended on critical parts and components. In 1986, Rice Lake Bearing became Rice Lake Weighing Systems and strong application and engineering support set the bar for the entire industry.
Rice Lake Weighing Systems became a world leader in weight related technology serving a wide spectrum of industries; Bulk Construction Materials, Chemical, Food & Beverage Processing, Timber, Pulp & Paper, Manufacturing, Packaging & Material Handling, Pharmaceuticals, Retail, Supply Chain Management, Transport & Logistics, Utilities & Waste. Rice Lake products and technology covered applications from basic weighing and data collection to on-line scale diagnostics and real-time monitoring, from recipe formulation to traceability systems, from truck management to inventory management, and beyond.
In 1996, Donald B. was awarded the prestigious Woody Woodland Memorial Award for his contribution to the scale industry.
Rice Lake now offers over 35,000 weighing, control, data collection and communication products with over 1,000,000 items in stock and available for same- or next-day delivery.
Additional products manufactured and/or distributed by Rice Lake include the highest quality bench, crane, counting, and floor scales, remote displays, balances, printers, junction boxes and hardware.
Rice Lake Weighing Systems’ skilled workforce of nearly 500 men and women continue to help lead the way in the development of new weighing and process control technologies. Rice Lake's corporate headquarters, metrology laboratory and main manufacturing plant remain in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, with support facilities throughout the world including North America, South America, India and the Netherlands.