Autino (Tony) Maraia,
President 1995 – 1999
Reflections from Tony Maraia in November 1999, from Writings on the Wall
As you already know, I will retire from National Gypsum on December 31 after 41 years. I'm excited about the opportunities that retirement holds, nostalgic about the terrific times we've enjoyed and sad that I will no longer see my friends and associates on a daily basis.
My career has taken me many places and presented many challenges since November 15, 1958, when I joined National Gypsum' s Gold Bond Building Products Division as a sales representative based in Bridgeport, CT.
Most of my time (with a couple of short exceptions) has been spent at Gold Bond, now National Gypsum. I've handled a long list of assignments, from sales representative to assistant district manager to district manager, to jobs at headquarters, including director of marketing, vice president of national accounts, vice president of marketing, vice president of planning, research and development, senior vice president of sales and marketing, and, for the last three and a half years, president.
Along the way, I've learned so much about this company, its products, its process and you, our associates. I have gained greater knowledge of all aspects of our business, including "behind-the-scenes" departments such as research, human resources, legal, financial, and information technology. I also have gained the upmost respect and renewed appreciation for manufacturing, the foundation of our company.
I've also seen a lot of the country. I've worked in several locations from Bridgeport and New Haven, CT; Providence, RI; Buffalo, NY; Alma, MI; Miami, Fl; to Charlotte, where I've been fortunate to have lived for the past 21 years.
When I started as a sales representative, we carried a huge price book – a binder filled with color-coded, loose-leaf pages that had to be updated almost daily. All of our customer orders were called in by telephone, and every order was tracked on paper.
Of course, there was no voice mail; we got our messages by phoning the district office twice a day. Trade shows were important, too; large show exhibits were always on the road, being shipped from one location to another.
How things have changed. Technology has certainly made us more efficient and more productive. Thanks to laptop computers, e-mail, voice mail, and cell phones, we serve our customers across the country with only 80 sales representatives and eight sales areas – down from more than 450 reps and 35 districts when I began back in 1958.
Our sales force is truly talented, too. We have seasoned reps who are knowledgeable about our products, committed to serving our customers, and highly capable of incorporating today's technology into their sales practices. They're backed by our state-of-the-art Customer Service Center, whose associates are adept not only at using technology, but also treating each customer with a personal touch.
Some things haven't changed, though. Customer relationships remain vitally important. I'm proud of the relationships we've built over the years. In fact, we've had some customers for so long that now we're serving the second-generation leaders of those firms – the sons and daughters of people I used to deal with years ago. Many of our customers have been with us since their founding or ours. That's a remarkable accomplishment.
As I retire, I'm confident that I'm leaving you in good hands. Tom Nelson, our chief executive officer, his well-seasoned management group, and our chairman, Dick Spangler, are truly committed to National Gypsum.