WICHITA — J.V. Johnston is the new vice president of institutional advancement at Newman University, which means he’s now the former president of Johnston’s, the men’s clothier at his Collective development just east of 21st and Greenwich.
“I’m leaving because I’m able to leave,” says Johnston, who will remain an owner in the business.
He says he’s been delegating more and more the last several years.
“One day, I came in, and I said, ‘I don’t have anything to do,’” he says. “I really kind of delegated myself out of a job.”
He didn’t have any intentions to work at Newman, though, until he felt a calling.
“It may sound squirrely,” Johnston says. “I’m religious. I’m not fanatical. I never had a calling. This time I did.”
Before he got that higher calling, though, Johnston heard from Bob Simpson, his friend who owns Simpson Construction Services.
Simpson told Johnston about the open position and the qualities the school was looking for in that potential employee.
“I’ll get you some names,” Johnston told him.
Simpson made it clear he had someone else in mind for the job.
“He leans over the table and says, ‘I’m looking at him.’”
Johnston says he “really felt like someone hit me with a club over the head, and I was going to fall out of the chair.”
He asked president Noreen Carrocci if she would consider him. She advised he get a resume for starters.
“I never had a resume, which is weird.”
Johnston has been president of the 100-year-old store, which began as McVicar’s Mens Wear, for 19 years. He’s worked there for 36 years. Johnston’s family purchased the store in 1965.
Kevin Edmundson will now be president. He’s worked at the store, which he owns with Johnston, for 46 years.
Dewight Lillard will be vice president of operations.
Initially, Johnston planned to check in on the store on Saturdays.
He says a friend told him, “J.V., you can’t do it. You’re holding them up.”
The friend said, “You’ll be surprised how well they do and how well they grow when you’re not here.”
“It’s pretty humbling,” Johnston says.
Johnston says Carrocci is one the reasons he took the job.
He says she’s “extremely engaged and extremely energetic.”
“If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t do it.”
Newman is in the middle of a capital campaign to raise $33 million. Johnston says the school has raised more than $10 million so far.
“It’s a big goal. Doable. But it’s a big goal. It’s going to take a lot of work by everybody in the organization.”
Johnston, who does Iron Man competitions, says he’s undaunted by his new job, which starts Monday.
“The way I’m built is I need goals. Big goals.”
He says there’s a perk with his new job, too.
“I’ve always worked every Saturday, so I’ll have some Saturdays off that I never had before in my life, so that’ll be big.”