Mr. Appliance of Owensboro

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Sharon and Tom Johnson stand next to their Mr. Appliance van on Monday in Owensboro.

When Tom Johnson retired from Rexel Southland Electrical Supplies, he wasn't ready to stop working.

So, in March 2018, he and his wife, Sharon, bought a Mr. Appliance franchise and opened Mr. Appliance of Owensboro, which services all major appliances.

"We're just in Daviess County now," Johnson said last week. "But we hope to expand."

In a way, he said, he's just following in his grandfather's footsteps.

In 1954, William A. Johnson started Johnson Electric Co., an electrical contracting business, in his home at 310 E. 23rd St.

"He also worked on small appliances," Tom Johnson said. "Toasters and things like that."

When William Johnson Sr. died in 1963, his sons -- William A. Johnson Jr. and H.J. Johnson and their brother-in-law, a.m. Thompson Sr. -- bought the business.

In 1966, they began Owensboro Electric Supply.

In 1975, they created Madisonville Electric Supply.

Later, Owensboro Electric became Midwest Electric.

Eventually, there were eight stores in Kentucky.

Then, in the mid-1990s, the company was sold to what is now Rexel Southland Electrical Supplies.

Tom Johnson continued with Rexel, he said, serving as manager of the Madisonville store for seven years and returning to Owensboro for six years.

Then, he became the local owner-operator for his Mr. Appliance franchise.

Johnson is a master electrician with 30 years experience and has taught electrical technology at Owensboro Community & Technical College.

The 23-year-old Mr. Appliance company says it's North America's largest appliance repair franchise system with more than 150 locations in the United States and Canada.

So far, the local franchise is Johnson and Randy Kingkade, who has 20 years of experience in appliance repair, doing all the service calls.

Emily Gish handles the phones and schedules appointments.

And Sharon Johnson, a health tech for Owensboro Catholic schools, handles social media and marketing.

"Tom was an Eagle Scout," she said. "Honesty and integrity are important to us. We treat people the way we want to be treated."

The company doesn't charge a diagnostic fee on completed repairs, Sharon Johnson said.

There's a one-year warranty on parts and labor and appointments can be booked online at MrAppliance.com/owensboro.

Tom Johnson said there's no overtime charge

"We email a confirmation of the appointment with a picture of the technician, so they'll know who's coming," he said. "We give customers a two-hour window of when we'll be there and we text them 15 to 20 minutes before we arrive. We wear shoe covers and use a tool mat to protect the floors."

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Appliances like vehicles are becoming more electronic than mechanical, Johnson said.

There are a lot of sensors that can go bad.

"With some appliances, you just get a new one," he said. "But the more expensive ones, you want to get repaired."

It's true, Johnson said, that some of the older appliances are better than some of the newer ones.

The rule of thumb, he said, is that an appliance should last a year for every $100 it costs.

Sharon Johnson said this is the company's busiest time of the year.

"We always try and remind people not to use the self cleaning feature on their oven right before a big day," she said. "But they always do and that darn self-cleaning feature messes up the oven's thermostat. These safety features control the temperature settings for conventional cooking. They are positioned on top of the oven or on the oven walls and can be damaged or pop from the high heat."

That can lead to inaccurate temperature readings to under cook or overcook food, she said.

That's a reminder for anyone planning a lot of cooking during the holidays.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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