New owners return to buy Pungo Machine

Published 10:01 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wheeler Johnson, who left Beaufort County in 2008, is the new owner of Pungo Machine, Inc., in Pantego. Johnson and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, purchased the business from longtime owners Michael and Diane Ahearn. (WDN Photo/Mona Moore)

PANTEGO — Wheeler and Mary Elizabeth Johnson recently purchased Pungo Machine Inc. in Pantego from longtime owners Michael and Diane Ahearn.
Wheeler Johnson said the transition has gone well.
“We’ve been very well received. The community has welcomed us in, and we’re glad to be back,” he said.
The Johnsons first moved to Beaufort County in 2001. They moved away four years ago.
“Ever since we moved away, we were trying to get back,” Johnson said.
Johnson was born in New Bern, but he said Washington is home to him.
“We love Washington,” Johnson said.
The Johnsons learned Pungo Machine was for sale through Ray Bergevin with Snowden Associates Inc. The Washington business acted as the exclusive broker of the transaction and assisted with the negotiations.
Pungo Machine was a great fit for Johnson who has worked in the manufacturing field for years.
The company designs and manufactures a line of products consisting of specialized impeller pumps and grapples, buckets and blades for excavators used in the agricultural, forestry and mining industries.
The product line is sold through a network of more than 50 equipment dealers located in nine states.
The company also designs and manufactures custom products to meet specific customer needs.
The Ahearns had been involved with the manufacturing firm since 1973. The company was started in 1954 as a machine shop and has grown steadily into a skilled manufacturing operation.
The facilities consist of 25,000 square feet of manufacturing, offices and warehouse space located on five acres of land situated on U.S. Highway 264 between Pantego and Belhaven.
Pungo Machine has 20 employees. The new owners plan to continue the existing product lines and look to take advantage of new opportunities.