Celebrations were the order of business as the Butler family convened for its annual board meeting this summer. August marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of the family businesses, Butler Lighting of High Point, Greensboro and Lewisville, N.C., and Butler Electric Supply of Fayetteville and Wilmington, N.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Each of the six locations is hosting a Diamond Anniversary Celebration. Butler Lighting-High Point will host the first of these celebrations in their 10,000-square-foot showroom. Marie Butler, founder of the business, will be on hand to greet invited friends and customers.

Marie and her husband, James P. Butler, opened the first lighting showroom and electrical supply location in Whiteville, N.C., in August 1948. A second branch opened in Fayetteville in 1954 and Fayetteville soon became the head office for the businesses.

Each of the four Butler sons head up operations in four geographical areas: Carlos Butler, the High Point-Greensboro -Lewisville area; John Butler, the Fayetteville area; James Butler, the Wilmington area; and Ben Butler, the Myrtle Beach area. Third-generation Butlers are also active in the business: Ryan Butler in High Point; John Butler, Jr., in Fayetteville; and Johnson Butler in Wilmington.

Looking back to the early days of the business in Whiteville, Marie Butler says, “It would be impossible today to open a business as we did, but many veterans, like my husband, were young, eager and willing to work. Neither J. P. nor I knew the lighting or supply business and had to learn as we went. J.P. knew how to sell and I knew how to keep the books.” Marie admits that southern hospitality played a part in their success as well. “There were few restaurants in a small town so I made a habit of inviting traveling factory representatives to our home for meals. The word began spreading that a nice young couple in Whiteville was eager to get more lines. These social contacts made a big difference in getting orders delivered to a small company.”

The company is still expanding. With the recent launch of www.LightingSale.com, Carlos Butler notes, “We are bringing to the Internet a site with the same quality products and individualized service that we offer in our showrooms. Our business philosophy is still based on that same sense of hospitality and hard work that began with our parents' southern roots.”

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