Awarded The 3rd Queen's Awards for Enterprise: International Trade
Find out more
Queens Award
Derek Johnson: A celebration of his life

Derek Johnson: A celebration of his life

9 years ago

Since bursting onto the London Shipping Scene in the late 1960's, Derek had always been at the heart of the business, originally as a Sales rep and latterly and best known as Managing Director of Johnson Stevens Agencies.

As a former employee and competitor he was without doubt the most influential person in the Liner Agency business during the last 50 years.

Representing more shipping lines to more destinations than every other Company, his ability to attract lines to the JSA name was legendary.

At one time his Company represented not one but two far east carriers, something that I still chuckle about.

What makes his achievement so special is that Derek was the founder of JSA. He built the business with his own money, his own toil and sweat and he was a true entrepreneur in every sense of the word.

Let us not forget, that he had British Rail name a locomotive Johnson Stevens in recognition of him moving so much freight from the road to the rail.

He created the "documentation service charge" for import cargo bringing much needed income to principals and their agents.

He was the master tactician controlling the entire supply chain years before people heard of 3PL.

If you booked a container with Johnson Stevens, they arranged the transport through Multimodal, the in house operations company, gave the transport to their own haulier, did the customs clearance with their own brokers at the port, did the port agency with their own water clerks and put it on the ship they represented. It deserves a round of applause.

It was however his control of the imports in the same way, creating a LO/LO charge which ensured importers used JSA for inland transport that could then be used for export loads that meant JSA grew just grew and grew.

With his liner Agency business bursting at the seams, it made sense to open an import clearance company JS Forwarding to arrange cargo clearance in house, and JS wines and spirits to look after that sector of the business. Well if you have ships coming from Australia, South Africa, US West Coast and South America, you would be mad not to have your own in house companies to handle it.

His vision was and still is a great source of inspiration to entrepreneurs in the Shipping Industry.

Derek was named in The Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to industry and was made MBE for which he was rightly very proud.

He was one of the most competitive people I ever met, and never gave up the fight and would not believe he had not gained a new principal even if someone showed him the signed agreement.

I and others around the world will miss him. Miss the cars and private number plates, miss the huge generosity to the charities he supported and miss him telling us the stories as only he could tell.

He was the Mohammed Ali of the shipping world and I am glad to have known and learnt from him.

 - Andy Thorne

The funeral arrangements are below:

Wednesday 4th March - Midday

St Mary's Broomfield Parish Church

Church Green


Essex CM1 7BD

United Kingdom

Telephone: 01245 440318


Read more on the announcement here.