My sister, Viola Remus, who was assistant payroll manager in Buffalo, recommended me for a job in the Buffalo Office. I was just out of college and went to work for Harry Polson in the Traffic Department.
I really didn't like my job in that department and told Mr. Polson I was going to take the sales training the company was offering. The class was open to six individuals. Mr. Polson said that would be okay, but I was just too quiet. I wouldn't make it in Sales.
At that time, the district managers would come into Buffalo and interview sales trainees. Mr. Bobbitt, the Houston Office Manager, asked me if I wanted to go to Texas. When I got to San Antonio, I had a 1951 Ford with no air conditioning and a 150-mile territory. I thought I had gone to the end of the world.
I rented a room in a private home. I made $225 a month and was able to make car payments to Dad and save a little money, too. At that time "crinkly" shirts were fashionable, and I washed my own.
Sales were lousy. The heat was getting to me, and I told the daughter of the lady where I stayed that I was going home. She said, don't do that. You just need to meet someone. She introduced me to Betty Pittman who was also renting a room in a private home. I can still see her in her pink dress and patent leather shoes standing on the porch. We were married, and I stayed in Texas.
Mr. Baker (Chairman Melvin H. Baker) was loved by everyone, and I knew him personally. His niece was sick with cancer in Texas. I can remember him coming to see her and getting off the company plane carrying grocery bags with apples and oranges in them. Our family had dinner with the Bakers, and he gave my son and daughter a silver dollar.
In 1985, I received the Salesman of the Year Award. We went to Charlotte for the ceremony. I sat by Mace Coleman who was head of the company then. He asked me what I was going to do after the meeting. I told him I would like to go to Washington, DC, and sightsee before going back to Texas. Mr. Coleman sent us to Washington, and we had three days of sightseeing.
National Gypsum has always been like family to me. I had a great job, worked with good people, and had great district managers. It's a great company.
John Remus – as told to Nancy Spurlock, February 12, 2010