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Ken Ruether

I was introduced to National Gypsum by Harry Polson, Manager of the Traffic Department, and in the winter of 1950, I was hired – February 15 – at the company headquarters in Buffalo, NY.

My first job was "Sales Correspondent." Ernie Hepping was the manager, Mabel Freund, his secretary. I think Ken Atwell was also in the department at that time.

Sales in 1950 were, if I remember, $75 million.

In the summer of 1951, I was assigned to the opening of sales trainee in Houston, TX. Mr. Dorsey Bobbitt was the District Manager. By Labor Day, I was given a sales territory in New Orleans and began my career in Marketing & Sales.

Notable in Buffalo at the time were: John Brewer, vice president, Sales; Wade Hildinger, vice president; Charlie Harless. Colon Brown was plant manager at Mobile and became chairman of the board. Mr. Baker was, of course, president, then. It was a close knit "family."

I recall a rather humorous episode. In those years, the company retained the services of Batten, Benton, Durstan, and Osborne (BBD&O) in New York City to create our national advertising features. The Saturday Evening Post was one of the magazines that featured Gold Bond. A meeting was held in the boardroom in the basement level of the headquarters at 325 Delaware. Mr. Baker attended the presentation of the upcoming years' advertising proposals by the BBD&O group. At the conclusion of the presentation, Mr. Baker was asked, "What do you think of our proposal?" He said, "It stinks" and walked out of the room. Stunned, the BBD&O people (some of America's most high-powered advertising executives) picked up their slides, etc., and quickly left the building in humiliation.

In 1950, the company was just beginning the conversion to computers and a special room was constructed in the basement to house the equipment. IBM technicians reported every morning as if they were company employees. Up to that time, everything was created manually.

It was a wonderful period in the company's history. The post-war building boom was about to take off and expansion of sales (to the West Coast) and manufacturing facilities exploded.

There aren't too many of us left from that period. I retired in 1985 with 35 years' service and loved every minute of it. It was a great company to work for. It probably still is.

Ken Ruether
Tyler, TX

Career History

Joined company in 1950, retired in 1985.