After growing plants for more than 50 years, Andy Buist of Micandy Garden Greenhouses has learned how to read a plant’s needs, and he cannot rest until he has taken care of all of the plants each day to the best of his abilities.
The passionate grower started his business with his wife Micki after they married in 1964. The high school sweethearts had both been raised on farms and neither had independent occupations. They decided to raise flowers and set up one hoop house on Buist’s father’s celery farm.
Eventually, they moved the business to a permanent location. Many more additions came over the years, and the business grew to 170,000 square feet. With the most recent additions, the business now covers more than 450,000 square feet of greenhouse space and an additional 75,000 of warehouse, production and office space.
The flower business has made many changes since Micandy Garden Greenhouses’ beginnings, and the company has kept up with the times.
According to Buist, he built his first flat filler in 1966 before he knew of any other on the market and was one of the first growers to use plastic trays when most flats were still wooden.
“Andy is constantly researching and experimenting with new technologies, and he is always trying to stay up to date with the latest and greatest taking place in our industry. He is committed to growing the company in any way that he can,” says Terry Foster of Micandy Garden Greenhouses.
In addition, Buist helped form the Michigan Plant Growers Co-op in Hudsonville, Mich., of which he was president for several years, as well as the West Michigan Flower Growers Association. Buist was also involved with the group that eventually became Bedding Plants Inc. (BPI).
As for being a leader, Buist sees himself more as a cheerleader than a boss.
“I am often encouraging my employees to keep up their good work, keep trying their best, and never give in to frustration, even when many factors seem to be against them,” he says. “A good leader has a passion for what he does and spreads that passion to all those around him.”
“(Buist) realizes that in order to be great, you need to have a team that works toward one common goal, which is what he strives to maintain at Micandy Gardens every single day,” Foster says. “Andy is not afraid to get his hands dirty and never asks anyone to perform a task that he wouldn’t do himself. His actions and his words make him a great motivator among all of the staff.”
“I am truly humbled that my staff thought enough of me to place my name in nomination for this position,” Buist says. “It shows the type of people that I have the privilege of working with every day. This is an honor way beyond anything I would have ever dreamed of.”