Renée Cieslikowski -
Moving from Buffalo to Charlotte
You can tell by the name alone – Ches-la-kow-ski – that I’m not from around here!
I was part of the group of 268 employees that “transplanted” from Buffalo in 1978.
My story begins when I went on my first (and only) interview as I was about to graduate from business school. I was so excited when offered the job at the Gold Bond Building Products headquarters of National Gypsum in downtown Buffalo. I thought I’d stay for a couple of years and then move on to something else.
During my early years at Gold Bond, I had the pleasure of meeting and knowing our founder, Mr. Baker. He had already retired but would come to the office a few days a week and dictate his memoirs to his secretary. I remember him as being such a nice man -- a true gentleman.
As you know, Buffalo has a reputation for its extreme weather and the winter of 1977 was a brutal one. We all had survived the famous “Blizzard of ’77” – when I left the office at noon on Friday and never made it home until 11:00 Saturday night – but that’s a whole other story.
My husband and I had just closed on our very first house in December and jumped head first into gutting and remodeling the kitchen. We took it down to the studs. Every weekend we worked tirelessly trying to get it done so we could move in.
But in early February – we were thrown a curve when Gold Bond announced the decision to move its headquarters to Charlotte, NC. At first, it was devastating news for all the employees who were born and raised in Buffalo. The thought of leaving family and friends and moving 1200 miles away was pretty scary. It was a tough decision but Mark and I decided – what the heck? Only problem was, our house was in shambles and we needed to get it finished and ready to sell.
I like to say we were the ultimate “do-it-yourselfers” way before it was cool!
In May we flew to Charlotte on our house hunting trip. This is before jet ways so when we landed and they opened the doors of the plane, and we started down the stairs a blast of hot air hit me in the face. I turned to my husband and commented about the heat coming from the jet engines – he looked and me and laughed – “No Renée, the heat's NOT from the engines -- welcome to Charlotte!”
The Marketing department was the first group to move – we arrived on July 16, 1978. We set up an office in the gold building on Morrison Boulevard while the building on Rexford Road was being built.
It was a bit of a culture shock at first – we came from a city where you could find a tavern on every corner to a “dry” county where you couldn’t even order a glass of wine in a restaurant.
By September – the move was complete, everyone had arrived from Buffalo and we settled in to our new offices on Rexford Road. Besides SouthPark Mall and the Equitable Life Insurance building (now Coca Cola) out front – there was nothing else around.
Mark and I ended up building a house, and in December (1 year later) moved into our “second” first house.
Obviously, I’ve stayed a little longer than the couple of years that I originally anticipated. In fact, there are only a handful of the original 268 employees that relocated from Buffalo still working today.
As I’ve said many times, we moved to Charlotte on Saturday – loved it and called it home on Sunday! Plus – I don’t have to wear a sweatshirt at 4th of July picnics anymore!
Renée Cieslikowski, Senior Manager, Advertising and Creative, as told to Nancy Spurlock -- 2015
Price & Policy Dept. Gold Bond Building Products Division/Buffalo
Corporate Audit Dept. National Gypsum Company/Buffalo
Marketing Dept. Gold Bond Building Products/Buffalo (returned to GBBP when NGC moved to Dallas)
Relocated to Charlotte with GBBP Headquarters
Planning & Development Department
1986 – Present
Advertising & Sales Promotion Department/Marketing Communications
2012 – Present
Senior Manager, Advertising and Creative