507 E. Michigan/ For Sale!


507 Under Construction in 1902

More things are changing! Now the place many of us knew as the center of the controls world since our namesake, Warren S. Johnson built it, is up for sale. This was the late January news in Milwaukee TV and newspaper.

That location has most of Johnson’s history tied to it. The name and logo have changed several times. The building was added to many times and was still internally labeled as building 1, 2, 3, thru 7, as recently as when I retired. But the location was always known as “507” to all the members of the Johnson family world-wide. Now it too will pass into history.

It wasn’t too many years ago that JCI owned most of the block just west of 507 and had a long term agreement for use of the parking structure in the next block west of that. As recently as 2015 (before the inversion with Tyco) there was serious talk of JCI building an office tower on the south side of East Clybourn just beyond the east end of the freeway. Now JCI is leaving the downtown altogether.

507 with the Brengel Technology Center

The article says the 1262 downtown employees will be moved to the Glendale campus which has 680 current employees and thus adequate room. It reports that they used to have 3000 employees in the Milwaukee area but are now down below 2000. While some of that is staff reduction, which we have been hearing about, others is probably due to spinning off the auto seating portion (Adient), and selling off the battery division (Clarios)  (which does still rent space at the Glendale campus).

I’m sure you all have your individual memories of that building, whether you worked there, like I did for 42 years, or came there from the field offices for business or training trips. It was the center of the Johnson universe, at least when Controls was the primary business. The company now has many products and divisions and probably has no center.

As I write this, I’ve also been informed that Johnson is closing its Carrollton Texas facility. The note mentions Ruskin rooftops being made there now. SECD used that facility in the past. I don’t know if it’s the same facility the JCI electronics division in Carrollton had also used.

What’s next?

Gene Strehlow

Past Messages: President’s Message Archive