Toledo family has worked at Owens Corning for three generationsWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
Twenty-five years ago, when Brian Caulkins visited his mom at work at Owens Corning, she would proudly show him off to her co-workers. Today, Carol Caulkins does the same thing — except now Brian’s visits come on business as a fellow employee.
As the company’s North American sales leader for glass reinforcements, Brian manages a team of nine sales managers across the U.S. and Canada. Work brings him to Toledo at least twice a month.
“As a kid, whenever I was in the building I was always paraded around [by my mom], saying ‘This is my baby!’ — and that still happens today,” Brian said, laughing. “Whenever I have to come to Toledo I make it a point to go to the cafeteria and have lunch with my mom or make sure I see her before leaving the building and there’s always someone new around who hasn’t met me yet. Whether I’m 10 or 38, I still get the same introduction.”
Carol, an executive assistant at the company’s Toledo headquarters, started at Owens Corning in 1978 and recently celebrated 35 years with the company.
Brian’s paternal grandmother, Gladys Caulkins, also worked at Owens Corning, making him the third generation in his family to work for the company. Gladys, now 90, started working at Owens Corning as a cashier in 1966, retiring in 1980 from the company’s credit union.
In all, at least six of Brian’s family members are current or former Owens Corning employees, including Carol’s twin sister, Marilyn Mills, a meetings and events coordinator.
“The bulk of my family legacy is women, strong women in a manufacturing environment,” Brian said. “That really was the fabric I grew up with.”
Brian, who now lives in Cleveland, was born and raised in Toledo. He graduated from St. John’s Jesuit High School and Bowling Green State University and later earned an MBA from Case Western Reserve University. He has been with Owens Corning since 2007 and in his current position for the past year and a half.
Carol and Marilyn often help coordinate sales meetings or plan awards ceremonies; sometimes Brian is involved with an event they plan. One of his favorite memories was receiving his first sales award at a ceremony organized by his mom.
“That was a nice moment for both of us,” Brian said. “It’s kind of a nice feeling to go to an event and see my mom or aunt working there. It’s also a nice feeling when you’re away from home, traveling on the road and, sure, you’re with work friends, but it’s always good to see your mom.”
Brian said his favorite part of his job is “creative collaboration” with his sales team and helping them develop as sales professionals.
“I like getting into constructive debates with my sales team on what specific companies want or what negotiations they are working on, just going back and forth debating ideas about how to get creative with a specific account and how to win a new piece of business so it’s good for the company and good for the customer,” Brian said.
Carol said she enjoys her job because it’s versatile.
“It’s not repetitious. There’s always something new to it,” Carol said. “It’s given me the opportunity to participate in some high-profile programs and projects.”
Carol said she’s proud of Brian.
“I’m very proud of what he’s accomplished, both personally and professionally,” Carol said. “It’s nice to see that legacy move forward and that he’s making his own mark within the company.”
Both said they are proud of Owens Corning’s 75th anniversary milestone.
“To me personally, it means a lot,” Brian said. “We make products that people need. My team deals with a lot of small businesses and entrepreneurs and we provide products and solutions to help build businesses that support their families. There’s a sense of pride and a sense of purpose to offer real products and real solutions for our customers.”
Carol agreed, adding that it seemed the 75th anniversary was a point of pride for all employees.
“We kind of took the whole year to celebrate and I could really see a sense of pride in a lot of the employees there,” Carol said. “Watching the history video that particular anniversary week was really cool. I had watched it before, but hadn’t really watched it until that week and then I was in a room with all the other employees and felt slightly overwhelmed with pride.”
Brian said he’s proud of his family’s legacy at Owens Corning.
“There’s a sense of pride that I’ve had someone in my family at Owens Corning since 1966, that for over half the life of the company, someone in my family has worked there,” Brian said. “When I came to Owens Corning, I just felt at home when I walked in. I’d never experienced that at any other company. I felt like I was home.”
Brian hopes he may even wind up back in Toledo someday.
“I come into town so frequently that it’s not nostalgic when I come in, but I like the fact that everyone knows Toledo as the Glass City and Owens Corning is part of that,” Brian said.
“I know that in my career all roads lead to Toledo. That’s something my wife and I are open to. Eventually we’ll come home.”