Johnson calls it quits at Faribault

FARIBAULT, MN -After a 42-year career at Faribault Woolen Mills, rising from salesman to president and ceo, Pete Johnson has resigned from the century-old blanket supplier-but is hardly retiring, he wants it known.

"Heck no, I'm not ready for the pasture," he said. "I'm out there pounding the pavement looking for something to do. I'm stuffing my resumes into the mailbox now."

The third generation of his family to work at the blanket producer, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Johnson joined Faribault in 1959 as a salesman and manager of the New York office, later becoming chief executive. In 1998, when Faribault was sold to a venture capital group, Business Development Corp. of Minneapolis, Johnson, a part-owner of Faribault, stayed on as senior vp, sales.

Now, said Johnson, "I plan to keep on working. I'm looking to do something in sales and marketing management."

During his watch at Faribault, Johnson noted, "We developed the washable wool, that was key to our history. We also developed the wool and acrylic throw business."

In a tumultuous era in American retailing and manufacturing, Johnson watched the birth and growth of the giant discounters and the wholesale consolidation of the U.S. retailing industry.

"Another big thing for Faribault was managing the migration of the customer base from the department stores to the direct-mail channel through the '80s and the '90s," he said. "That's really where the action is in wools and better blankets now. The other big thing we saw during that time was the turn of the department stores from a full selection of home textiles to a rather limited presentation."

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