This year, NECA Notes features articles telling the stories of NECA’s new Premier Partner companies. This month, we are proud to feature Buckingham Manufacturing.
As the story goes, Ezra Cornell, the name behind Cornell University, found a need for hanging telegraph wire after failing to bury them or run them along the ground because of things like condensation and poor insulation. At a later date given his contributions to aerial lines, Cornell was labeled as the world’s first lineman. Why is that important? Because just a short drive from where Cornell was working in Upstate New York, Wilmot Stephens founded The Stephens Company in Binghamton, New York, exactly 125 years ago. The Stephens Company was a blacksmith shop and manufactured “Stephens Climbers,” allowing those working on utility poles to easily climb the pole and hang wire according to Cornell’s suggestion. This story was the genesis of an entire product line that served linemen and arborists and what made Buckingham the company it is today.
Several years later, in 1913, W.H Buckingham purchased The Stephens Company and changed the name to what is now known as Buckingham Manufacturing Co., Inc. At that point in time, manufacturing was expanded beyond climbers to include linemen’s body belts, safety straps, climber pads, knives and other tools.
Fast forward to 1984, when Andy Batty Jr. and a new management team took ownership and grew the company substantially over the next several decades, solidifying Buckingham’s role as the world’s leading and most trusted manufacturer of equipment for major electric utilities, telecommunications companies, wireless and cable providers, electricians and arborists.
According to a catalog from the 1940s, “Mr. Buckingham always demanded the utmost in fine workmanship and made no compromise with quality.” That laser-like focus on quality remains today amongst a continually growing and dedicated workforce at the same exact Binghamton, New York location. Its strong workforce is very prideful in its work and craftsmanship and—more importantly—is honored to help those they serve go home safely to their families at the end of the day.
The mission continues
Today, the company is led by Andy Batty as President and principal owner and his son Tim Batty, as General Manager. Andy and Tim continue to guide the company and have expanded, improved, and introduced new products; built, maintained, and grew a robust sales and distribution system that spans the globe; and introduced new technology to the industries that Buckingham serves as well as its own production facility.
Alongside Andy and Tim is Chris Delavera, who plays a key role as Vice President of Sales. He oversees a vast salesforce across the country, an extensive manufacturer’s representative network across the world, and a distribution network that is second to none. His role runs deeply beyond sales and he is a key part to the entire company. Rounding out the leadership team at Buckingham and playing a key role with its new relationship with NECA is Ryan Tronovitch as Director of Marketing. Ryan oversees the NECA Premier Partnership program and works very closely with all aspects of the company to ensure customers have exactly what they need. They are all extremely open, friendly, and always ready to talk and take on new projects, so if there are ever any ideas, you know who to reach out to.
In getting to know those at Buckingham Manufacturing like Andy Batty, Tim Batty, Chris Delavera and Ryan Tronovitch, their mission stands out in literally everything that they do. On their web site, the company’s mission is prominently stated: “Our mission is to manufacture high-quality, reliable and innovative products that make linemen, arborists, and workers in the many industries that we serve more efficient, more effective, and most importantly, safer.”
A trusted partner for ECs
At the beginning of 2021, Buckingham Manufacturing joined the NECA Premier Partner program. When giving a presentation several months ago to let electrical contractors know a little bit more about the company, Tim Batty focused in on the quality portion of their mission statement. He used McDonald’s as an example of quality: whether you are in Chicago, Paris, Hong Kong, New York City, or a rural town in the Midwest or South, if you order a Big Mac and fries, you know exactly what you are getting and that Big Mac and fries will taste the same no matter where you are. That, according to Buckingham, is exactly what quality is and how they define it internally: giving the customer exactly what they order and expect. While many of the internal processes surrounding quality are confidential and proprietary, the focus on quality is evident in everything that is done from the ownership to those on the manufacturing floor.
The extreme focus on quality is exactly why they are so proud of the fact that everything they manufacture is made right here in America. You don’t see that very much anymore, but it is extremely difficult to control quality when a product is being manufactured 7,000 miles away in a foreign country. Because of that, their Upstate New York factory is ISO 9001:2015 certified and follows all applicable industry standards including OSHA, ANSI, ASTM, CSA and CE requirements. The BuckLab, where research, design, development and testing is conducted, is also ISO 17025 Certified, allowing the company to be extremely nimble and effective when bringing new products to its customers.
Buckingham’s core business has been rooted in serving major electric utilities, telecommunications companies, wireless and cable providers, and arborists. Following the announcement of Buckingham as a NECA Premier Partner, many electrical contractors have found that Buckingham’s large offering of products will fit their needs and provide them with the best just as others have found for the last 125 years. From harnesses and lanyards to ladder stabilization, to tools like knives, Buckingham’s wide variety of American-made products are perfect for NECA members working both inside and outside.
In learning more and more about Buckingham, it’s easy to see that they are in touch with the industries they serve at an extreme and intense level. People like Andy, Tim, Chris and Ryan are honored to work with people and solve their problems, and aren’t shy in telling you that most of their product ideas come from simple conversations or requests from the field. As we near five full months as Buckingham being a Premier Partner, Buckingham looks forward to continuing to receive ideas from all NECA contractors.
Header image by Buckingham Manufacturing.