Kent Johnson — Alumni Stories — Foundation & Alumni | Northcentral Technical College
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NTC Foundation

Alumnus Kent Johnson

Owner, Trantow’s Do-It Center

Kent Johnson, owner of Trantow's Do-It Center in Merrill, WI still uses the knowledge and skills he learned at NTC in his daily interactions with builders and customers. Trantow's Do-It Center is a family owned business started by his great-grandfather as a hardware and bicycle shop 117 years ago. It developed into a coal supplier under his grandfather. When the change was made to natural gas, Johnson's father evolved the business into a lumber yard, supplying materials to builders throughout the area.

Johnson learned the basics of drafting by watching his father, who was self-taught. After high school, he went to UW Milwaukee to study Architecture. The program at that time focused on commercial construction and Johnson learned that he preferred working on residential buildings, so he returned home to learn design at NTC. After graduation, he worked for a lumber yard in Sparta, WI to see if he could "make it on his own." After working successfully as a drafter for five years, he returned home to work in the family business.

Johnson's favorite class during his time at NTC was "Strength of Materials" where he learned how to calculate beams. He still uses these skills today and said the education he received is the basis of his communication with builders and employees. Johnson hires alumni from the Architectural/Residential Design program, and currently has six NTC alumni working with him. He prefers to hire alumni because he knows they have the skills and background needed at his store.

Johnson continues to give back to NTC with his time and talents. He is an active member of the NTC Foundation Board and has donated to projects including the Merrill Public Safety Center of Excellence and the NTC Foundation Residential Building home. He likes to support, promote, and advocate for NTC as a way to give back to the college that has helped to provide him with a good living for both himself and his employees.

As an alumni and employer, Johnson has words of advice for new graduates entering the workforce. He recommends to always present yourself professionally in manner and appearance and be comfortable with making conversation. He believes in "An honest day's work for an honest day's pay. If you follow this you will succeed." Johnson recommends taking advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow, whether through on-the-job training or continuing education. He believes these opportunities will enhance employability skills and increase career success through promotions and earning potential. It will also help individuals survive downsizing because they are too valuable for the company to let go.


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