Buist Sheet Metal Salutes Brian Ritsema – Happy Retirement!

Buist Sheet Metal Salutes Brian Ritsema – Happy Retirement!

Congrats to Brian Ritsema on his 46 year career at Buist Sheet Metal!

We salute Brian Ritsema as he retires at the end of a 46 year career at Buist Sheet Metal, working with 3 generations of the Buist family!
Brian’s impact on our company is immeasurable and we thank him for all he’s done throughout his career here.
We recently sat down with Brian to interview him about his impressive career, his favorite memories at Buist, and how he sees the Michigan sheet metal industry evolving in the years to come.

How did you first get involved at Buist Sheet Metal?

Brian Ritsema works on a metal roofing project for the Prince Tech Center - circa 1980s

It was May of ’78 and I was going to Calvin College. I finished out the second year, but I was struggling to really see the bigger picture of what I should do next in my career. Then, one of my buddies (who was working here at the time) said that I should check out  be a good fit at Buist Sheet Metal.”

I thought, ‘okay, I’ll give it a whirl.’ So I called up Don Buist and told me to meet him at the Rec center. It was a pretty straightforward interview. He asked me if I could carry heavy things (yes) and if I was scared of heights (I don’t think so.) Then he told me to show up on Monday and the rest is history.

How did you learn the sheet metal trade?

One of the main mentors for me when I was just starting out was a guy named Frank Witzeck. He was about 45 years old and I worked with him for over 10 years. Frank taught me a lot of things. He taught me how to be good with my hands and the problem-solving skills to be successful in sheet metal, but it was also more than that. He taught me how to be content and proud in the work that I do. And, perhaps more importantly, he taught me how to inspire others – to take the learning I got on the job and pass it on to the next generation.

Tell us about a project that you’re particularly proud of.

A project that I worked on that I felt was particularly meaningful was Christ Memorial Church in Holland, Michigan. That job itself was so complex, yet so outstanding. In fact, we wound up getting a national award for it!

When we’re in Holland and I’m with a new guy, a lot of times I’ll take him on a little bit of a detour to show him the building. It just gives you goosebumps to think that you’re involved in something that impressive. And it certainly fills you with a sense of pride to be able to look at how all the hard work and teamwork you put into it led to this beautiful place where people are now able to gather together and worship for years to come.

A closer shot of the custom metal roofing project Brian Ritsema did for Christ Memorial Church in Holland, Michigan.

A wide angle shot of Christ Memorial Church in Holland showing the full breadth of the metal roofing project.









Brian Ritsema is in the stands with a group of fellow Buist Sheet Metal employees at a 1980s Tigers Baseball Game company outingAs you look back over your career at Buist, what would you say stands out to you?

It was certainly hard work, but it was also certainly rewarding. I think that one thing that stands out about working at Buist is that they really do have a strong commitment to family. Not just the 4 generations of Buists that have run the company, but the family of every single person that’s worked there. They’ve built a solid foundation between profit sharing, retirement fund contributions, etc. to make sure people are taken care of. But they’ve also gone beyond just that; cultivating a spirit of teamwork, caring and support that builds trust and camaraderie.

What are you looking forward to in your retirement?

After 46 years of work, it’s actually a bit of a challenging question. The first thing I’m going to do is take the first six months to settle in and do the projects that I didn’t quite have a chance to do. I’m going to try to wake up each day with a purpose for each day, commit to making my wife feel special and do some traveling. I also definitely want to stay connected to the trades. There are a couple of charities that I know of that need help and I’m looking forward to connecting and hopefully showing gifting the community with some of my time and effort. That said, I plan on not rushing into anything and remain open to what the Lord has in store for me.

A note from Jim Buist (3rd generation) on Brian Ritsema

Jim Buist shares a plaque talking about the artistry of being a craftsman. “When I think about Brian, I had a plaque in my office at home for years that said a man who works with his hands is a laborer, a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman, but a man who works with his hands, his brain and its heart is an artist. Brian put his heart into his work, whatever he was doing. And Brian, I consider as being an artist, no matter what work he was doing, he had and shared his joy. And that is a gift from God.”



Thank you Brian! We appreciate you and wish you well!

Interested in launching a successful construction career just like Brian? There’s a reason he stuck around at Buist for 46 years: we’re fully committed to improving the lives of our employees and their families through good pay, benefits, work/life balance, and meaningful work.

Learn more about opportunities available to you by visiting our Sheet Metal Careers page.