John D. Johnson, retired President & CEO, CHS Inc.
John Johnson’s vision and unwavering belief in the cooperative value proposition reshaped U.S. agricultural co-ops’ ability to capture 21st century success. Grounded by his rural North Dakota and South Dakota roots, he dedicated his 34-year career to embracing innovative opportunities to connect producers from their farms and ranches to the global marketplace through their cooperatives.
Johnson’s leadership style combined a clear vision of the benefits of pursuing new paths, initially for Harvest States Cooperatives and later for CHS Inc., with an exceptional ability to articulate the benefits of these bold steps to member-owners, board members and employees with trust, integrity and transparency. Among the groundbreaking actions of his tenure were major investments in food manufacturing, establishment of global operations, development of alternative ownership structures, and issuance of publicly traded, non-voting preferred stock as an additional growth capital tool.
With his fellow cooperative chief executive at Cenex, Inc., he recognized the long-term strategic value of uniting the two co-ops in 1998. To date, hundreds of thousands of CHS member co-ops and producer-owners have benefited from dependable product supply, global market access and unprecedented economic returns through their connections to CHS energy, fertilizer, grain marketing, value-added food and food ingredients and business services.