Bringing Power to the People of Buffalo

Ferguson Electric
Written by Pauline Müller

After 84 years in the industry, Ferguson Electric is, and deserves to be, a household name in Buffalo, New York. Ferguson Electric is the complete electrical contractor, providing engineering, construction, servicing, maintenance – and quality.

And as Ferguson Electric welcomes its fourth generation of leadership, the company has the future in mind: working to sustain its reputation and good health, and growing organically.

The company says that in its commitment to integrity, knowledge, and trust, repeat business is its main goal. “We value our repeat customers and we’ll do what is right to retain them. We do what is right even if the drawings don’t say so,” say James Schneider and Kevin Roland, Chief Executive Officers.

Ferguson Electric’s services are in high demand throughout Buffalo’s educational, commercial, industrial, medical and utility markets.

With its testing, commissioning, and 24/7 emergency response service, it has evolved from a comparatively simple service portfolio to becoming a specialty electrical services provider, the biggest of its kind in the region. The introduction of a line crew serving commercial and utility installations was highly successful and has led to tremendous expansion of the service.

Dealing with data
In addition, Ferguson offers a DataComm service that deals with all major data-related installations, including data cabling, testing and certification, fiber-optic testing and certification, fiber-optic fusion splicing, and much more.

The company also offers design and engineering, and pre-construction phase services like assistance with design, 3D modeling, and budgets as well as construction-phase services like distribution, installing building controls, nurse-call systems, and electric-vehicle charging stations, project management, substation installation, and 24-hour emergency assistance. Besides all this, Ferguson Electric is a proud supplier of preventative maintenance services.

Of course, quality service is a crucial part of business longevity, which explains the company’s phenomenal success. Even during the country’s tough economic times, Ferguson Electric was continuing to expand and used the opportunity to train and develop key personnel.

Above all, safety
The company offers an NFPA 70E Compliance training course for its customers and employees (established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as the NFPA 70E® Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®).

The course covers arc-flash study with regard to safety; documentation, labeling, and training to prepare participants for properly protecting property; mitigating liability, timely identification of potential danger, and keeping operations within the standard’s framework. A benefit of the training is that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set NFPA 70E as a national standard.

Setting the standard
Ferguson Electric was founded on August 1, 1935 by Whitworth Ferguson Sr., an electrical engineer who began his career working for the Robinson Electric Company – where he rose to the position of vice president – before setting out on his own.

(At the time that it was founded, the company was said to be the biggest of its type in the region. From the platform that Ferguson Sr. provided, it has expanded steadily ever since, becoming a huge part of the development of Buffalo and Western New York.)

Ferguson Sr. had an altogether illustrious career, and is acknowledged for his part in convincing the powers of the time to establish the New York State Nuclear Research Center at Buffalo State University. He was a man of many talents who, on the side, became the State Atomic Research and Development Authority’s first commissioner. In addition, Ferguson served as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Buffalo branch; as president and chairman of the Greater Buffalo Area of Commerce; and as chairman of United Way.

Among Ferguson Sr.’s copious awards are an honorary science doctorate from Weber College, Florida; and the President’s Distinguished Service Award from Buffalo State College.

It almost goes without saying that this was a man of great character and distinction, whose memory is kept alive by those he inspired through his kindness and humble disposition. By hard work and dedication, he ensured that the business passed into good hands, leaving a legacy that inspires today.

Ferguson Electric’s business is about people, and the leadership team goes all out to grow the company wisely and steadily, for the benefit of its own. The company introduced an employee stock-ownership plan (ESOP) two decades ago, yet has retained to this day the spirit of the family business that it used to be.

“Everybody’s job is important and we all work together to get our projects done,” says Schneider.

Clients also benefit from the expertise of numerous engineers and electrical field foremen, almost 450 electricians, and nearly 70 office personnel as well as a full-time safety director. Because taking care of its people is one of the company’s foremost priorities, safety is at the top of its list – both for its own personnel and for its customers’ staff and facilities.

The power of giving back
The company shoulders its responsibilities toward the well-being of the community as a matter of course, with around 100 charities benefiting from its goodwill. It’s apparent that Ferguson Electric takes to heart the usual expectation of helping make the world a better place.

The business has been involved with United Way for decades, as well as a leading fundraiser for the Ride for Roswell, one of America’s largest cycling events in aid of cancer research. Ferguson Electric also supports the Albright Knox Art Gallery, Explore & More Children’s Museum, Meals on Wheels, Food Bank of WNY, Hospice, and Kevin Guest House, among many others. The latter facility caters specifically for relatives supporting family members in the hospital.

Going big in Buffalo
The old adage of ‘go big or go home’ neatly fits Ferguson Electric, where large projects are their daily bread and butter. Some of its largest include work for Tesla Inc.’s SolarCity Corporation; New York Power Authority (NYPA); Athenex; Oishei Children’s Hospital; The Delaware North Building, 250 Delaware Avenue, a mixed-use development of pretty impressive proportions; as well as the Richardson Olmsted Campus, a recognized national landmark adjacent to Buffalo State College, part of the State University of New York. The company is also working on the iconic Maid of the Mist upgrade to 100 percent electric vessels at Niagara Falls, NY.

With automation increasingly prevalent in the industry, and utility projects being executed by contractors more often, Buffalo is once again becoming something of a hub for business headquarters and manufacturers.

“We’re fortunate to be integral to all of this development in Buffalo during the city’s resurgence,” says Donald Freedman, Estimating Department Manager. With its current opportunities emanating from a wide variety of industries, Ferguson has opted to stick to its traditional diversified scope of work rather than zoom in on a niche market.

This makes sense, because the Buffalo market is a tight-knit community that likes to work with familiar local companies who provide quality and value. And the result is that Ferguson Electric plans on staying in the Buffalo/Niagara Region, building the city and region, and the prospects of its people.

This is not a company chasing uncontrolled growth, either. It is content with its current market share; aiming at steady, sustainable growth rather than risking the chaos that often arrives with rampant expansion. There’s clearly a strong sense of responsibility evident in that decision, reflecting the company’s obviously calm yet ambitious disposition.

In a fast-growing market, that’s a pretty wise way to be.



Storm in a Teacup

Read Our Current Issue


Food for Thought

June 2024

A Living Underwater Laboratory

May 2024

Achieving Equity Through Sustainability

April 2024

More Past Editions

Cover Story

Featured Articles