Director of Purchasing Mrs. Nancy Gustitis reminisces about her time working alongside multi-billionaire and Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
From making executive decisions in the elevator of Trump Towers to making strategic marketing changes for Trump Castle, Malvern’s own Nancy Booth (Gustitis) was an integral part of Trump’s success.[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#006699” class=”” size=”20″]
In 1987, Director of Purchasing Mrs. Nancy Gustitis began a professional relationship with Donald Trump which evolved into a friendship that would continue for nine years.[/pullquote]
Gustitis, whose maiden name and name during her managerial career was Booth, started her management career at the Golden Nugget Hotel Casino, a property owned by Trump’s rival Steve Wynn. She started at Wynn’s company as an Assistant Restaurant Manager and was promoted six months later to Restaurant Manager.
In 1984, Gustitis was promoted to VIP Services Manager in Wynn’s Hotel Division. Her new position tasked her with running 189 hotel suites for the high rollers, handling all the VIP guests, and accommodating entertainers, such as Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, and their entourages.
In 1987, Gustitis was a part of a group of executives that left Wynn’s Golden Nugget and went to work for Donald Trump. She took a job at Trump Plaza and became Director of Customer Service – a position that put her in charge of the seven retail stores, limousine operations, bell desk, front desk, health spa, vending, children’s nursery, beach operations, beauty salon, mailroom, and coat check at the hotel.
In the same year, she started her professional relationship with Donald Trump which evolved into a friendship that would continue for nine years.
One of her most treasured memories, an experience she still remembers vividly nearly three decades later, is when she first met Donald Trump.
Since Trump Plaza was under a massive renovation at the time, she temporarily worked out of Trump Towers to redesign all the retail stores with the Vice President of Retail Operations. On the first day of the redesign project, she stepped on the elevator and turned around to see Trump along with his hulking bodyguards boarding behind her.[pullquote align=”right” cite=”Mrs. Nancy Gustitis” link=”” color=”#006699” class=”” size=”20″]
“I imagine he decided to run because he wants to see some changes in the country. Isn’t that why anyone runs? I don’t think he has any false motives at all.”[/pullquote]
“He looked at me and said ‘Hi, who are you,’” Gustitis said. “So I introduced myself and told him my position. He then asked me where I worked before and when I told him the Golden Nugget, he smiled. He and Steve Wynn were always big rivals, so he was extremely happy to know we left to come and work for him.”
A few seconds later, in that elevator, Gustitis would make her first corporate decision under Trump.
“He asked me, ‘What do they have over at Golden Nugget that we don’t have at Trump Plaza?’” Gustitis said. “And at this time we were going through that big renovation but the one thing we weren’t redoing was the health spa. High rollers and entertainers of the day were starting to like them more and more so I told him we needed a better one.”
In the course of an elevator ride, Trump decided to trust Gustitis and gave her permission to start the construction of the new health spa.
“I went back to the president of Trump Plaza and told him the news,” Gustitis said. “They shortly thereafter hired an architect and within six to nine months we closed the old spa and started working on a new $4-5 million health spa.”
This experience stuck with Gustitis. She believes her interactions with Trump are indicative of the kind of man he truly is – not necessarily the man we see on the GOP debates or on The Apprentice.
“He treated us all well,” she said. “I used to sit next to him just like [a student] would sit next to a peer. I worked with him for nine years and he never disrespected anyone nor was he ever disrespectful to me.”
“He promoted women and he always respected everyone’s opinions, never displaying a sense of superiority,” she said.
A promotion would soon come for Gustitis herself. She was moved over to Trump Castle in 1990 where she assumed the role of Director of Retail and Marina Operations. This placed her in charge of the familiar retail stores along with the 729 boat Farley State Marina which was run like a hotel under a 100 year lease agreement with the state of New Jersey.
Her leadership at that marina would result in Gustitis’s favorite memory from her experiences with Trump.
Gustitis worked closely with the state of New Jersey to ensure that the Trump organization was in compliance with the marina’s lease.
With her experience in mind, Trump called her in for a meeting to ask for a favor.
“His bodyguard called me and asked me to come over to talk with Donald,” Gustitis said. “He opened right up by saying ‘I know you’re really close with these guys from the marina and I want you to get them to agree to changing the name to Trump Marina.’”
That was a Sunday, and Trump wanted a call back with good news on Tuesday.
“Of course I was pushed for time, but I called the state the next day,” Gustitis said. “Like I had thought, they said ‘Nancy, the name will never get changed.’”
Not defeated, Gustitis came up with a plan that required another name change.
“I came up with the idea to change the name of Trump Castle to Trump Marina instead,” she said. “Then by virtue of the fact that it’s right next door, people will start to call the actual marina, Trump marina. It would only make sense.”
Gustitis called Trump. She told him that the state would not let them change the name. Then she told him her idea.
His response? “Perfect, do it.”
According to Gustitis, Trump’s response was reminiscent of the ‘just do it’ attitude Trump possessed— an attitude she first saw in the elevator in Trump Towers.
It was a great idea according to Trump. However, it was also a multi-million dollar idea. The name change required hundreds of intricate changes from the signage to the name on the soap bottles. Despite all of that, Trump once again trusted Gustitis’s plan and within six months the project was completed.
Perhaps that great success prompted Trump’s next decision, to promote Gustitis once again. In 1992, she became the Director of Hotel and Marina Operations and ran the entire hotel including the Retail Operations, Marina, 800 hotel rooms and suites, housekeeping, bell desk, PBX (private branch exchange) operations, and sales and marketing. She was in charge of everything except the casino and food and beverage.
It was during her time running the marina that Gustitis met all of Trump’s children, Donald, Erik, and Ivanka.
“Donny came to work for me the next summer as a dock hand,” she said. “At first I was a bit nervous about my job security because this kid’s father was ultimately my boss. I thought his bodyguards were going to tell me exactly when he was going to work and what he was going to be doing”
Gustitis was soon relieved of her apprehension and pleasantly surprised. Donny was just another teenager whose dad made him work.
“He was incredibly humble. He didn’t want anyone to know his name or who his father was,” Gustitis said. “In fact, he used a fake name on his name tag. He was such a nice kid and never once played the ‘dad’ card. He was treated the same as all the other employees and he liked that.”
Ivanka and Erik were the same, kind and respectful just like their brother.
People may assume Trump’s children are privileged, but Gustitis described them as humble and hardworking. Similarly, people may assume Trump is egotistical and arrogant from some of his television appearances.
However, the personal experiences Gustitis has with Trump may warrant a second look.
“Donald certainly has a showman side to him,” Gustitis said. “But that is all an act. In my nine years working for him, I never saw him talk to anyone like he does on TV. Don’t get me wrong, he is a strong-willed man and won’t take no for an answer, but he is a good man at heart.”
Will Trump’s domineering, ‘get the job done’ attitude work in the political realm? That is for the people to decide.
“He was and still is a very successful business man. But that’s just that – business. I don’t know his political ideologies or whether his business principles would translate well,” Gustitis said. “All I know is he always loved our country and he always will.”
Rumors have been flying around that Trump is not in the election to better the country, but rather to better himself. Gustitis was quick to dismiss that pretense.
“He already has money and fame so I do not think he needs more of that,” she said. “I imagine he decided to run because he wants to see some changes in the country. Isn’t that why anyone runs? I don’t think he has any false motives at all.”
In October 1996, Gustitis met her husband, Gene. His son went to Malvern, so she decided to move to Pennsylvania and get a job at the Malvern campus store.
Next time you stop in to the campus store, rather than just take the free piece of candy, ask Gustitis about her experiences. She certainly has more fascinating stories she’d love to tell.