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Rosi Johnson

President of Mississippi Music and CFO of Mississippi Music Acceptance Corp.

Every life needs music. And every music company that helps provide the instruments for life’s music needs someone savvy with accounting, business and personnel procedures like Rosi Johnson, president of Mississippi Music and the company’s financing arm, the Mississippi Music Acceptance Corp. (MMAC).

Usually when a woman marries into a family business, involvement is likely to be in a support role.  But Johnson did such a great job with accounting and management as chief financial officer (CFO) of Mississippi Music and MMAC for 20 years that she was elected president of the company in 2002.

“Her selection as CEO was a milestone in Rosi’s career and was particularly significant given the family dynamics in Mississippi Music,” said Lou Ann Poynter, a retired banking executive. “Early in her career, Rosi married the youngest son of the company’s founder and CEO who, along with his oldest brother, had grown up in the business. I think it is a testament to Rosi’s strength of character, her work ethic and her ability that she was selected to lead the company rather than one of the founder’s sons.”

Johnson credits her in-laws, James W. and Mac Johnson, who founded Mississippi Music in 1946, with giving her the opportunity to succeed in a male dominated industry. She also credits her late father, Ben Kling and mother, Ella Mae Kling, for instilling in her the work ethic she has today.

CPA Stan M. Carpenter has watched Johnson’s career from the time she graduated from college, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Mississippi, to learning all aspects of the business.

“Rosi’s work and dedication to the company has placed Mississippi Music at the top as one of the most successful and long-lived music stores in the U.S.,” Carpenter said. “Rosi is well rounded with her involvement in both music and community organizations. She has been active in the Historic Downtown Association helping to develop the image and business environment of Hattiesburg. Rosi is well respected and appreciated in the local community.”

Although she has an accounting background, make no mistake. Johnson is not just about numbers and the bottom line. She also has a vast knowledge of musical instruments from the largest grand piano to the smallest band instrument, the piccolo.

“I try to create lasting partnerships and life-long music makers,” Johnson said. “The process starts with young children and lasts to the older generation. I am dedicated to promoting music advocacy and a great believer in arts education. One of my main passions is working with band directors to improve their bands and make better music students.”

When she became president, she was committed to technology advances and changed the corporation’s computer software system in the summer of 2005 right before Hurricane Katrina hit.

“With all five of our locations affected by Katrina, making the right decisions kept our stores open and our employees employed,” Johnson said, who supervises a staff of 72 and annual sales of $9 million. “The message I relayed to my employees was to service our customers with genuine interest and concern because we had all been affected by the devastation of Katrina.”

Tom Schmitt, chairman of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), said Johnson is a tough-minded business leader who tackles problems head-on.

“Her warm, engaging and direct management style has created one of the most effective, dedicated and enthusiastic groups of employees in our industry,” Schmidt said. “Mississippi Music is perhaps best known for the quality of its people and work environment.”

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