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Executive hopes to help open mattress plant in Cambodia

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Roger Pickett, at right in blue shirt, meets with members of Cambodian delegation at his mattress factory.Roger Pickett, at right in blue shirt, meets with members of Cambodian delegation at his mattress factory.
CLEVELAND, Tenn. - A mission trip to Cambodia earlier this year opened Roger Pickett's eyes to the need to boost the Cambodian home furnishings industry.
Now Pickett, president of MurMaid Mattress here, is hoping to help a nonprofit group open a mattress factory in that country and give Cambodians badly needed jobs.
Pickett traveled to the Southeast Asian nation in March on a trip sponsored by People for Care and Learning, a nonprofit organization that aims to help needy citizens around the world.
It was an eye-opening trip. Pickett saw Cambodians sleeping on concrete floors and wooden cots. And he learned that Cambodians would like to boost their economy by finding new types of jobs. One thing led to another, and a mattress factory in Cambodia, a rare commodity in that country, is now in the planning stages, he said.
He is doing his part to make that dream a reality. Pickett is donating two older tape edge machines in his mattress factory to a new factory to be built in Cambodia. MurMaid Mattress is a factory-direct operator.
"I'm asking any factories around the country that might have working equipment that I could add to my tape edge machines and send to Cambodia to help give People for Care and Learning and the Cambodian people a working mattress factory," Pickett said.
The idea for a mattress factory has been picking up steam.
A group of Cambodian leaders recently toured factories in Tennessee, including MurMaid, looking for business-building ideas. Pickett led the tour of his factory and said the Cambodians liked what they saw.
"I think they became so excited because they were seeing something they could accomplish in their country," Pickett told his hometown paper, the Cleveland Banner. "They have gone to both Whirlpool and Amazon, and they recognize those factories would have to be started by an outside force. A mattress factory is doable - it's not high-tech."
That's not to say that starting a mattress factory is simple, Pickett said. Making a quality mattress requires the coordinated efforts of several different workers, he said.
Pickett will be doing more than just donating mattress-making equipment to the Cambodians. He's planning to return to Cambodia in March for another observation trip. While there, he's planning on devoting some time to training the new mattress employees and helping that factory get off on a good foot.
A good night's sleep, he says, is something that people everywhere deserve.

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