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Broomcorn Johnny’s featured at White House

Broomcorn Johnny’s featured at White House
Broomcorn Johnny’s featured at White House
Brian Newton, owner of Broomcorn Johnny's, speaks with his wife, Liz, in the business's office area near Elizabeth. Below, Newton works on a broom. Photos by Ross Schulz

An Elizabeth couple made an unexpected ‘ and at first unbelievable ‘ trip to the White House earlier this summer to show off their made-in-the USA business wares.
Brian and Liz Newton, of Broomcorn Johnny’s, were notified by a phone call from White House personnel that they had been selected to come to the White House and to bring their brooms.
‘I hung up on him,’ Brian Newton said of the first attempt to notify him of the White House invite. ‘Ten minutes later he called back.’
Newton said he looked up the man’s name to see if it checked out. It did, and that’s when it hit him that it was not a prank or scam.
The call came on a Friday, and they were expected to be at the White House on Monday morning (July 17). The problem was, the Newtons were at a craft show in New England that wouldn’t close until 5 p.m. Sunday.
Arts and craft shows make up the bulk of Broomcorn Johnny’s sales.
‘When the White House calls, you don’t say no,’ Liz said.
So, the couple from deep-down rural Rosewood Road took off in their pick-up truck from the craft show and headed to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C.
After spending the night in a small-town hotel, the Newtons continued their trek in the wee hours of the morning, driving over the George Washington Bridge and through New York City and New Jersey before reaching the nation’s capital with little time to spare.
The all-American road trip ended directly in front of the White House where the Newtons unloaded their 100-percent hand-made brooms.
‘We were in a hurry and forgot to move our truck,’ Brian Newton said. ‘So, it sat in front of the White House all afternoon.’
The event was a part of Made in America Week, declared by President Donald Trump, who campaigned on the slogan ‘America First.’
The event celebrated American-made products, one from each of the 50 states.
Trump spoke of tax cuts, cutting regulations and trade policies that would help U.S.-based businesses grow.
‘We’re going to stand up for our companies and, maybe most importantly, for our workers,’ he said during the event.
The products and companies featured ranged from the smallest of companies like Broomcorn Johnny’s to major companies such as Stetson cowboy hats from Texas, golf giant Ping from Arizona and Gibson Guitars from Tennessee.
Many of the items were symbols of the states in which they were made, such as maple syrup from Vermont, a crab pot maker from Maryland, Caterpillar farm equipment from Illinois, Omaha beef from Nebraska and Chick-fil-A sandwiches from Georgia.
The items were on display in the historical State Dining Room.
‘It was quite humbling to walk into that building,’ Brian Newton, an Air Force veteran, said of the White House. ‘It’s the people’s house.’
The Newtons said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, former governor of Indiana, stopped by each booth and shook everyone’s hands.
Trump even signed his autograph on a Hills of Harrison County Studio Tour pamphlet, using Newton’s back as a table.
Newton said he could have had Trump sign a broom, but the pamphlet had more meaning.
‘This is all of us,’ Newton said of the upcoming tour (Oct. 1 through 31).
Pence also signed the pamphlet.
‘He was really nice,’ Liz Newton said of Pence. ‘He was soft-spoken and said he was proud of us.’
So, how did a two-person broom-making operation get invited to represent Indiana at the White House?
‘I have no idea,’ Brian Newton said last week. ‘We still don’t know how they picked us, and we may never know.’
Broomcorn Johnny’s has been featured in a couple of national magazines, so the couple speculated that may have sparked the White House’s interest.
The Newtons use American-grown products for their brooms.
When it comes to hand-made, professional broom making, Newton said there may be only about 10 in the entire country.
According to Broomcorn Johnny’s Facebook page, he uses tools from the late 19th and early 20th centuries to create ‘high-quality, long-lasting, beautiful brooms for home, stage and motion pictures.’
Each broom has a 15-year warranty included, Newton said.
‘It’s not very hard to do … after about 300, you get the hang of it,’ Newton joked of the broom-making process. ‘It’s taken a long time. After 1,000, you can warranty it.’
Broomcorn is a plant, a type of sorghum, discovered in Africa more than 2,000 years ago and brought to North America in the early 1700s.
Broomcorn Johnny’s, with brooms made daily, is open year-round by appointment.
To make an appointment, call 812-969-3333 or send an email to [email protected]
The company’s website is broomcornjohnnys.com.
Other than their shop in Elizabeth, Broomcorn Johnny’s brooms are sold at Stephenson’s General Store in Leavenworth, Young’s Country Market in downtown Corydon and festivals.

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