Faces In the Crowd: Brandon Butler

August 15, 2019

Aaron Michell

Brandon Butler is an entrepreneur.
And although you may not know who he is, chances are, you’ve probably heard of his companies.
Brandon’s the “Butler” behind Networking Butler – the local IT and computer company that’s been in business for the past 15 years. He’s also the “BB” behind BB’s Tree Service – a start-up company in 2018, that continues to grow by the day.
He’s also a licensed builder. He’s also working on his arborist certification, and he’ll soon have his CDL.
Give him a few years, and he’ll probably be giving helicopter tours while fixing power lines in his free time.
But in all seriousness, when the opportunity is there for Brandon to advance his knowledge, or improve his abilities, he jumps at it. Because that’s what entrepreneurs do.
But Brandon’s more than just a businessman. He’s the father to Feather, Flower, Digory, and Kelvin. He’s the son of Joe and Denise. He loves being outdoors – whether it’s splitting firewood, or enjoying the day on the water. And he loves learning new things. Despite being the “Networking Butler” for over 15 years, he continues to learn more about the industry on a daily basis.
We caught up with Brandon recently at his home, where we learned a little more about who he is, and what he’s all about. We learned that Brandon Butler is more than just another face in the crowd.

Marion Press: Where are you from originally?
Brandon: My hometown is Leslie, Michigan – right between Lansing and Jackson. It’s very similar to Marion, it just has a McDonalds. Graduated from Leslie High School in ’96 – right after I moved from there, they got a brand new high school; a really big, beautiful high school. Right after high school I immediately went to school in Georgia, at Georgia Tech.
MP: What took you to Georgia Tech?
Brandon: Computer Engineering is what I was studying. I just always wanted to go to school at Georgia Tech. As soon as I got accepted that’s where I went; I had full scholarships at two other colleges down there – University of South Carolina and Mississippi State – but I wanted Georgia Tech.
I sort of regretted that, because it ended up that I couldn’t pay the non-resident fees. So after two terms I had to change the way things were going and I ended up back in Michigan.

Brandon Butler

MP: When did you first get involved with computers?
Brandon: When I was young. Probably 10 years old. My cousin got his first computer and he lived on the block across the street. I went over and stole his keyboard from his computer and took it home so I could practice typing – even without a computer – just so I could practice typing! So I’ve always been interested in it. When we got our first computer, I was always playing with it; broke it nearly every day. So I’d have to get it fixed before my dad woke up when he came home, so I was always motivated to learn how to fix them.

MP: Do you remember your first computer?
Brandon: Yeah, I remember exactly what it was. It was called a Goldstar 33 megahertz; it came from Sam’s Club. I remember it very clearly – all the specs and everything. Before internet was really out, there was a thing called Prodigy – it was a dial-up – and you’d dial up when you needed it. And I remember watching a football game – Michigan vs. Michigan State – and as soon as it was over we dialed up and we were just amazed that on the screen it said “Michigan defeats Michigan State”. 30 seconds after the game was over, it was on the screen and we couldn’t believe it.

MP: How the world has changed! When you came back to Michigan from Georgia, where’d you go from there?
Brandon: I started school back at Baker College in Jackson, and I was a maintenance supervisor there. My dad had a cabin in Harrison, right on the lake, so I moved there and transferred up to Cadillac; I worked in maintenance there for a few years while I was going to school. As soon as I graduated, they offered me the IT position to run the Cadillac campus. And very quickly I got promoted through the ranks and ended up a system engineer for the system headquarters in Flint, even though I was based here in Cadillac.

MP: Tell us about Networking Butler.
Brandon: When I first started it, I just had work for a few clients; there’s a few clients in Cadillac that really were my base that started me off. I really thought that I knew a lot during that time, and I didn’t find out until later that I really didn’t know anything! I had a few clients; I worked nights when people needed me to. But then when I got as high as I could be within the Baker College system, and didn’t have room for advancement any further, I was requested by a lot of businesses to take my business full-time. So that’s what I did. I left Baker College, and got an office in Cadillac, and I’ve been running the business full-time ever since and never looked back. It’s always been very, very busy from the moment I did it.
But I had a couple hundred clients before I started it full-time, so I already had a really good base. Over the years we’ve served over 2,000 clients. We’ve worked mostly in Cadillac, but all of the surrounding counties – we travel all over the place too.

MP: Does the name – Networking Butler – kind of give it away in terms of what you do?
Brandon: No, many people think I’m a cleaning service because of the logos! But really it was just a play on my name. My last name is Butler; it’s a service-based business. I was going to do “Butler Networking” but I wanted a website that would match my name, and Butler Networking was already taken. So I changed it to Networking Butler, and then really played on the name as far as the service – we service networks, for the most part. But we do everything to do with technology. We’re a mobile IT department; we have a shop that people bring things to, but mostly we’re mobile. We do everything: security cameras, telephone systems, computers, servers, printers, scanners, everything.

Brandon with three of his four children.

MP: You moved to Marion in 2005. What were your first impressions of Marion?
Brandon: It reminded me of my hometown. It was very similar. I lived right downtown in Leslie, which wasn’t very much – just like Marion, and was surrounded by farms. The whole village was surrounded by farms. It was very similar, I remember thinking that.
When I moved here, it was just the way luck happened, finding a place to rent. I used to rent the lower level of this house I live in now, until I bought it in 2012.

MP: And now you have BB’s Tree Service. Tell us about that.
Brandon: Yep, now I do BB’s Tree Service as well. I’m spread pretty thin all over the place. But I absolutely love it. Working on wood has always been my passion. Hand-splitting firewood has been my favorite hobby since I was a very small kid. I’ve always loved it because it’s kept me in good shape, and made me feel good, and was always very satisfying. So I formed BB’s Tree Service as another full company last year, and it’s been going very, very strong.

MP: Tell us a little bit about your family.
Brandon: I’ve got four kids: two girls, two boys. My oldest daughter, Feather, she’s about to be a senior at CMU. She’s doing very, very well. She also, I believe, has the entrepreneurial mindset, I think she’s going to be very successful. My next daughter, Flower, she was named by Feather when Feather was four years old. Flower’s about to be a junior at Cadillac High School.
My older son, Digory, his name came from the Chronicles of Narnia book series. When I was in third grade, I read that series and that name was in there. And I always said if I had a son, that’s what I’d want his name to be. He goes to Cadillac High School, and he’s about to be in eighth grade. And my youngest boy, Kelvin, he’s about to be in fifth grade.

MP: When you’re not climbing trees or fixing computers, what do you enjoy doing?
Brandon: I like watersports: canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding – I take my kids out whenever I get the chance. Visiting with my family. I make it a point that we always go on at least one vacation every year, and hopefully other mini-vacations. Mostly I enjoy spending time with my kids.

MP: What is your favorite part of living and working in this area?
Brandon: I just really like getting to know people. I’ve gotten to know so many people, and I know the area better here than I did my own hometown. That’s probably what I like more than anything, just getting to know everybody.

MP: What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Brandon: One thing that my dad told me when I was young, and I’ve taken to heart – although I’m not old enough to really fulfill his advice yet – but what he said was: “Work hard while you’re young, so you can enjoy it while you’re old. The harder you work while you’re younger, the more you’ll enjoy it when you’re older.” I’ve kind of taken that to heart, and that’s what I do. I’ve got a limited time here, and I’m doing everything I can while my body and my mind will hold up; I’m doing everything I can to be successful during this time, but still enjoy life at the same time.

MP: Who have been some of your role models over the years?
Brandon: I learned a tremendous amount from my dad growing up; he taught me a lot of stuff. He’s actually my stepdad, but he raised me my entire life. I learned a tremendous amount from him about life in general, and being compassionate to people, and taking care of kids. So I’d say he was probably my number one role model. I’ve definitely taken a lot of his advice. And my mom also has a very, very strong work ethic. We’ve always had a very strong relationship. She’s always been a very hard worker, and demonstrated how important that is as well. She’s been a role model as far as being a parent goes.
And in a way, my children are my role models. Or at least I’ve tried to be role models for them, and they are my biggest motivation for trying to succeed and to live a good, honorable life.

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