Carl “Erling” Johnson, longtime manufacturers’ representative and founder of The Johnson Co., died this month at the age of 87. Johnson ran the rep company with wife Phyllis and later two sons Keith and Darrell, the three of whom still run the company. Johnson continued to work until he recently was forced to stop because of dementia-related illness.
Johnson played football at the University of Washington and later played for the semi-pro Seattle Ramblers. In 2006, Johnson was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Football Hall of Fame.
He began in the equipment business working for a rental company Air Mac Rentals, which was acquired by Hertz Equipment Rental Corp., and Johnson became branch manager for HERC in the Seattle area. He also worked at Universal Equipment, a heating company. Johnson became a manufacturers’ rep, one of the first in the Seattle area, eventually starting The Johnson Co. and representing lines such as Smith Air Compressors, Universal heaters, Sky Witch, Snorkel Economy (later Snorkel), and also represented concrete vibrators, cranes, forklifts and other equipment.
Johnson was active in the Northwest Rental Association as well as the American Rental Association.
Johnson is survived by his wife, sons Darrell, Keith and Warren, and six grandchildren.
Remembrances may be made in Erling Johnson’s name to the UW Medicine Neurosciences Institute or the Alzheimer’s Association.