As a Buyer for the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, Marshall Johns supplies everybody with everything at the best price possible.
Notepads, pens, screwdrivers, computers, radiators – you name it, he’s bought it.
“It’s fun. It’s always something different,” he said. “And because I like working with my hands, I’m familiar with a lot of tools that workers at the Authority use. So when they come to me for parts or supplies, I can help them get exactly what they need, based on my own experiences.”
Johns was born in North Carolina and grew up in the Miami area. After studying electronics in junior college, he enlisted in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, serving for 21 years before retiring as a Master Sergeant.
His first job at the Aviation Authority was as a Storekeeper in the Procurement Department. Over his 19 years of service, he rose to Storeroom Manager and to his current role as a Buyer.
In his off-hours, he’s Mr. Fix-It.
“I have a workshop at home so I can usually fix whatever anyone needs me to, “ Johns said. “People ask me to check their exhaust or maintain their engines. I enjoy helping people out whenever I can.”
Computers, cars, lawnmowers – he can repair them all.
He has never bought a fully assembled desktop computer, he said. Instead, he builds them from parts. He has made an outdoor standing feeder for his pet parrots, Rico and Lucky.
He even sews.
“I try to be as self-sufficient as I possibly can,” he remarked.
Johns’ real love is sport bikes. He participated in Motocross races in his 20s, and he now owns four motorcycles, including a red Ducati.
“I’ve slowed down a bit over the years, so I enjoy cruising nowadays,” he said, “But every once in a while I’ll pull out the Ducati and hot rod.”
And he doesn’t just ride bikes. He restores them.
“Sometimes I can’t get parts for the older bikes, so I just have to make them,” he said.
When a friend had difficulty riding his motorcycle after a knee surgery, Johns fabricated an extension to the foot peg.
He sometimes takes his restored bikes to tradeshows and exhibitions. Johns has a Best in Show and a second-place prize to show for his efforts.
“One of the things I love hearing people say is that something I made looks like it was professionally done,” Johns said. “That puts a smile on my face.”