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Mohawk's Johnson to move on

Long-time Mohawk Home executive and home textiles industry veteran Merle Johnson is saying goodbye to "my family at Mohawk" and the industry as a whole in order to create a new line of dinnerware for a major diversified product supplier.

As of April 22, Johnson will work for Dallas-based Beximco of America, the U.S. division of Beximco Ltd. in Bangladesh. The company is a supplier of a broad range of product — jute, pharmaceutical goods, ready-to wear and ceramics/dinnerware.

While her specific title has not yet been established, Johnson said she will be responsible for starting up a new everyday dinnerware line to be imported from Asia.

"I'll be developing a whole new brand of dinnerware for Beximco," Johnson, who will remain based in her home office in Morristown, NJ, told HTT. "I will be responsible for all the sales, all the marketing and all the product development, so everything will go through me. It's very exciting, and I absolutely love the challenge."

But, she noted, the thrill comes at a big cost.

"Mohawk is a wonderful company," said Johnson, who's last day as business manager for the Southwest division is April 19.

In her new post, she will report to Beximco of America chairman Naved Hussain. "I've spent more than half of my career with Mohawk companies, and I feel sad because a lot of these people are like part of my family."

Johnson worked as vp of sales for Newmark from 1987 through 1996, then went to American Weavers, where she remained until Mohawk bought both companies.

"I've been with them all along," Johnson said. "I feel like I've been with most of those people forever, and I'll miss them very much. I never, ever would have left Mohawk if this opportunity hadn't presented itself."

In addition to her work at Mohawk Home, Johnson is well known in the industry as the founder and head of the steering committee for the Executive Women in Home Textiles organization, which she launched five years ago. The group meets regularly to network and also organizes a panel of speakers for its bi-annual market breakfast event. This market, however, because of complications with the program, Johnson said the breakfast has been cancelled.

"I plan on staying involved with the group, but I'll probably step down from my post because it's not my industry anymore," she said.

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