In 1964, brothers Larry Buist and Roger Buist were laid off from their jobs with an electrical contractor. The brothers decided to form Buist Electric, and with minimal equipment began a journey of trusting God for their business.
The company grew slowly in the early years. The men hired many friends andrelatives as their first employees. In the thirtieth year, 1994, Larry Buist purchased Roger Buist’s share of the company. The business had expanded to include a Data Communications Department (now called Buist Communications) and employed seventy-eight. By the fortieth anniversary in 2004, Buist Electric employed two hundred thirty-five. The following year, Larry Buist sold his shares in thebusiness, and Buist Electric became an employee-owned company. In 2006, the company also opened branches in Kalamazoo and Greenville. In 2012, Steve Longstreet, who had been with the business for thirty-four years at the time, was named President.
As the company grew, the mission never changed and always remains at the forefront: “God – Honor Him in all we do. Employees – Consider their well-being as essential. Customers – Provide them with superior service. Others – Share our resources.”
As Buist Electric celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, with two hundred seventy-nine employees, the Leadership Team – comprised of Steve Longstreet, Larry Buist and Brent Brinks – recognizes how God’s faithfulness has upheld and guided the company from the beginning. Longstreet witnessed the Buist brothers trusting God through the highs and lows of the business. “Even in the tough times they were learning from God and doing the very best for our employees,” Longstreet said. “Both [brothers] knew that God was in charge, and it was His business, and sought Him out for how to continue to run the business.”
In fifty years, Buist Electric has witnessed major technology changes. “Many things are done now with computer programs rather than a simple switch. Manufacturing lines run through computers, and the level of knowledge an electrician needs today over fifty years ago has grown immensely,” Longstreet explained. The company expanded with the technology to include testing and automation departments, design and build services, 24-hour emergency services, voice/data communications, energy management, and outdoor utilities. Buist Electric’s projects have been as large as the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and as small as a service call.
Buist Electric has also become a leader in energy-saving LEED solutions. “West Michigan stands out as one of the top places for LEED buildings,” Longstreet said. The company will design to meet LEED standards, and Longstreet sees this as a great opportunity to take care of the resources God has given us.
Longstreet said servant leadership has always been a key component to the business. The Leadership Team meets weekly to study what it means to be servant leaders and how to carry it out. They also discuss day-to-day business and their vision for the future. The leadership team seeks to find ways to challenge and encourage employees to develop and use their gifts. The result has been a caring community and family environment within the company.
Buist Electric’s servant heart extends to the community. To accommodate some of the needs they recognized, the company developed the Buist Foundation in 1993. The Foundation receives support through money received from reclaimed copper, employee donations, and Buist Electric match of employee contributions. It is comprised of a two part time employees and a board under the leadership of Brent Brinks. They meet monthly to make decisions on how these funds are to be disbursed. They have assisted many individuals and families with housing expenses, medical bills, community development and more.
Six years ago, they also opened the Buist Community Assistance Center, a high-quality food pantry serving around one hundred seventy-five families per week in Byron Township. Full-time employee Shirley TenHarmsel, an additional part-time employee, and around one hundred volunteers run the center. Local companies donate 100 percent of the 2.2 million pounds of food they receive and distribute, of which they only need to pay small handling fees of approximately ten percent. TenHarmsel said the center also shares food with ten to twelve other area food pantries.
In honor of the company’s fiftieth anniversary, the companyhas made available $200,000 in grant funds for non-profit organizations and individuals that need specific assistance. “God has blessed Buist Electric for fifty years,” Longstreet said. “Our faith is strong in seeing how God has provided and His faithfulness.”
Heading into the future, Buist Electric will continue to build on the areas they do well in and expand into new areas as technology develops. “We will stay current with the ever-changing world and venture into new opportunities to challenge us and our employees, and not rely on the status quo,” Longstreet said. In all things, they will serve their employees and meet their customers’ needs while seeking to honor God in all they do.
For more information:
President, Steve Longstreet
Officer, Larry Buist
Officer, Brent Brinks
Address: 8650 Byron Center Ave. SW, Byron Center, MI 49315
Phone: (616) 878-3315
Address: 3201 Lake St., Kalamazoo, MI 49048
Phone: (269) 343-9191
Buist Community Assistance Center
8306 Byron Center Ave. SW
Byron Center, MI 49315
- Next Article: Conference Grounds Overcome Loss for Ministry Gain
- Prev. Article: Persecuted is a Timely Faith-based Film that Deserves Recognition