Some companies start in garages. Some start in basements. Some start in cramped office spaces.
Windemuller started in a chicken coop.
On January 2, 1954, Edward Windemuller and Henry Feyen joined forces to launch Feyen & Windemuller. Perhaps it was the product of a New Year’s Resolution, or maybe it was long-gestating idea of Windemuller and Feyen that simply happened to come to fruition right after the 1953 holiday season. Whatever the explanation, Windemuller and Feyen convened on the second day of 1954 and started an electrical contracting business.
During those early years, working out of a chicken coop in Grandville, Michigan as their business headquarters, Windemuller and Feyen slowly made a name for themselves doing electrical contracting work for residential clients and small commercial businesses. The company’s first commercial project was a job for Faber’s Supermarket in Cutlerville, Michigan. The first company vehicle was a 1947 Maroon Pontiac. Despite some humble roots, Feyen & Windemuller was off to the races.
Though Feyen & Windemuller started doing business in 1954, it wasn’t officially incorporated until 1963. By that time, the company had grown from a two-man operation into an entity with 12 employees. That number more than doubled over the next five years, bringing the business to one of its major milestone years, 1968. Two big things happened that year: First, the company hit the 25-employee mark; second, Ed Windemuller bought out Feyen’s ownership in the company and officially changed the name to Windemuller Electric, Inc. Throughout the first decade of the company operating as Windemuller Electric, it nearly doubled in size once more, reaching 46 dedicated employees by 1978.
The next big milestone year for Windemuller came in 1983. That year, Windemuller officially expanded beyond Grandville for the first time, opening offices in Kalamazoo and in Sarasota, Florida. Ed Windemuller moved to Florida to lead the company’s expansion there, with his son, Mike Windemuller taking over Michigan operations. 1983 also saw two other major leadership changes at the company, with Mark Windemuller, another one of Ed’s sons, taking on the role of corporate vice president; and Chuck Alles, Ed’s son-in-law, stepping in as controller; Chuck would eventually be named CFO.
Windemuller’s fourth decade proved to be the biggest one yet. In 1988, the company landed a job with Steelcase to build its Corporate Development Center Pyramid– a $19 million contract that set the record as the biggest job Windemuller had ever completed. Three years later, in 1991, Windemuller Electric was the successful bidder to handle all the electrical work for the brand new Traverse City East Junior High School. The Traverse City East Junior High School project was Windemuller’s first big job in northern Michigan, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last. That same year, Windemuller Electric purchased Ennis Electric, based in Elk Rapids. This acquisition sparked the new branch office in Traverse City, which was officially built in 1993, with David Beemer taking the reins as branch manager. The following year, Ed Windemuller sold Windemuller Electric’s Michigan operations to Mike, Mark, and Chuck. Those two events marked the start of a brand-new chapter for the business.
Windemuller Electric continued to grow and expand throughout the remainder of the ‘90s and into the 2000s. In 2000 and 2001, the business opened satellite offices in White Cloud and Petoskey, respectively. In 2005, Windemuller relocated its White Cloud office to Big Rapids and added another satellite office in Whitehall following the purchase of a competing business called Top Rail Electric based in Montague, Michigan. That acquisition served as a major catalyst for growth, considerably expanding Windemuller’s skillset, revenues, and operations on the western side of Michigan.
Fittingly, given all the growth, 2005 also saw another passing of the baton at the leadership level, with Dave Beemer taking the title of president. Dave would go on to oversee some of the most notable milestones in Windemuller’s history. One particularly major moment was the acquisition of the Midland-based Hovey Electric in 2014, which reshaped our company’s safety culture and grew our presence substantially in the middle of the state. Safety has remained the core value at Windemuller ever since, with the company even hitting one-million hours worked without a lost-time accident in 2018.
Today, we go simply by “Windemuller,” and offer a range of services that includes not just electrical work, but also automation, communications and IT, outdoor utilities, renewable energy, and more. From our seven Michigan offices – including main offices in Traverse City, Grand Rapids/Wayland, and Midland, and satellite branches in Big Rapids, Whitehall, Charlevoix, and Kalamazoo – we serve clients in the industrial, government, municipal, and commercial sectors. Our statewide footprint allows us to take on projects throughout Michigan, and even beyond. With approximately $50 million in annual revenue and a family of 250 employees, we’ve sure come a long way from the chicken coop days.
Do you want to help us write our next chapter? Whether you are looking for a project partner or a place to work, Windemuller is here to welcome you into the fold. For us, the future is already happening. We’re preparing for our next chapter of leadership, with Dave Beemer stepping down as president and passing the torch to Steve Alles, Ed Windemuller’s grandson. And we’re preparing for our next chapter of work, too, eyeing huge potential in the future of renewable energy as our next big push. We can’t wait to find out what’s next, and would love to have you be a part of it.