Family Connection
Personal Stories
Sales & Marketing

The Kirkman Family

J.E. (Ed) Kirkman, Sr. joined the company in 1935. He worked for a short time at the Savannah plant during World War II, when sales representatives would work in the plants as needed. Ed Kirkman became district manager of the North and South Carolina District. He sold Lowe's its first order of Gold Bond in 1948. National Gypsum was Lowe's exclusive supplier of gypsum board for a number of years.

Kirkman became district manager of the Charlotte Office in 1951.

Kirkman's brother-in-law, Howard Johnson, joined the company in 1952 as a salesman. He later became assistant district manager of the Birmingham Office. He was with National Gypsum for 18 years.

Mrs. Kirkman was known to bake treats for customers who came to dealer meetings. Ed Kirkman won the Melvin H. Baker Award twice. He retired in 1973 and died shortly after that.

After serving in the Korean Conflict, J.E. (Jim) Kirkman, Jr. joined the company in 1955 and worked for about six months at the Savannah Plant – on the line, loading rail cars, testing in the lab, and night watchman. A rural Virginia territory came open, and he began his sales career in 1957.

The larger Richmond market opened in 1958 and from there Kirkman became drywall consultant in 1961 for the entire southeast. In 1965, he became assistant district manager in Virginia Beach and in 1971 moved to Florida covering that sate and southern Georgia for the Manufactured Housing Division.

"When I joined the company in 1955, salesmen were required to dress in white shirts only and even to have hats. It wasn't until Colon Brown became chairman that colored shirts were approved. There were no 'casual Fridays.'"

Jim Kirkman was nominated for the President's Award three times and earned it in 1980. In 1984, he became a national accounts zone manager (NAZM) and in 1986 was named NAZM of the Year. At that time, this award was an antique pistol. As a senior salesman, Kirkman called on Scotty's, covering its corporate office and all stores in Florida.

In October 1993, Kirkman was scheduled to have a private meeting with his supervisor. Rumor had it that some sales people would be asked to stay and others asked to go. To dress for the meeting, Kirkman wore a two-sided costume, half was business attire and the other half shorts and a golf shirt. He carried a brief case and a golf club and fishing rod. He retired that day with 38 years' service.

"I play golf three times a week and work out at the VA Wellness Center. Liz and I joined an adult marching band that appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in 2008. I just received my 15-year Volunteer Award from Suncoast Hospice, the largest not-for-profit Hospice in the world. My wife has been Volunteer of the Year at Hospice and was named a Point of Light by President George W. Bush in 2002 for her work.

Dean Simpson, Jim Kirkman's brother-in-law, started in the Savannah Plant and moved to Macon, GA in sales. He worked there for nine years before going into other related businesses.