Oklahoma was still a rough-and-tumble Indian Territory in 1893 when Willis Boyd Johnston opened the doors of W.B. Johnston Grain Company in Enid. He based his business on service, providing grain, seed, flour, coal, hay and livestock to the Cherokee Strip settlers. Five generations later, this is still the foundation of Johnston Enterprises.
A participant in Oklahoma’s famous land run, the former school teacher set out to carve a place for himself and his company in the highly competitive agriculture industry of the Southwest. Among the young entrepreneur’s early accomplishments was the purchase of the first load of wheat in Garfield County. In 1920, he built a 40,000-bushel elevator complete with corn shucking equipment that served as the centerpiece of his business. Today, there are 22 country elevators and two 50,000 bushel-per-hour shuttle rail terminals, and Johnston Enterprises has diversified its operations to include a major seed company, water ports in 2 states, and an experimental research farm.
Johnston Seed Company has grown into an industry-leader offering a wide variety of agricultural seeds, turf grasses and wildflowers to customers worldwide. In partnership with the United States Golf Association and Oklahoma State University, it is actively involved in developing specialty turf products and was the first to perfect a line of cold tolerant Bermudagrasses.
Port operations in Oklahoma include Johnston’s Port 33 in Inola, Johnston Terminal Muskogee in the Port of Muskogee, and Johnston's most recent port expansion in 2009, Port 33 South. Additional port facilities are located in Chalmette and Gramercy, Louisiana.
Currently, Johnston Enterprises employs approximately 300 people. In 1976, Lew Meibergen purchased the Company from his uncle, W.B. Johnston’s son, Dale Johnston, to continue the family ownership. J.L. “Butch” Meibergen II joined the business in 1979 and represents the fourth generation to own and operate the Company, with a fifth generation following in his footsteps.