In a retail environment increasingly dominated by the corporate might of super stores, independent dealers can easily get swallowed—that is, unless those dealers have a guy like Gerald Johnson around.

In 1995, Johnson organized over 240 kitchen and bath designers and retailers from 40 states into a buyers group that consolidates their purchases, bringing discounts and rebates that save dealers like Johnson tens of thousands of dollars. The organization has also spawned a semi-annual national consumer magazine named Best Kitchens and Baths, which features the work of its members.

Johnson, who unlike many kitchen and bath dealers offers complete project management from design to completion, learned the benefits of organization and cooperation during his years with the NKBA, where he served as president in ’91 and ’92. “Getting involved” for him has always been a win-win situation. Each year he donates a design to an auction that benefits public television and local schools. “The charity gets the money, and I get the lead,“ Johnson says. “The closure rate is very high.”