Kathy Buffman is celebrating her 35-year anniversary with STT Security today. She has been with the company through thick and thin; read her interview below!
When did you start working for STT?
I started 35 years ago doing plain-clothes security in stores working as an undercover shopper. I originally applied to be security for coverage at a strike that ended up not happening. I got a call back and was asked if I wanted to work the plain-clothes security position; I took that and have been working with STT ever since.
What have you done while working for us? How many sites/positions have you been in?
I started by watching video tapes to investigate cases of employee embezzlement; this was in the investigative division under the old Director of Investigations at STT. We had VHS tapes of the employees working that we had to review. I then moved on to doing some clerical work in the corporate office. Eventually, I think in 1996, I went from part-time clerical work to an HR assistant. Now I’m the main person in charge of corporate HR operations.
STT is a great company, and I’ve really liked working here. Everyone is always looking out for each other. I feel like that started with the founder, Dave Rusch, who would make sure everyone was taken care of even if it was in private so nobody else would know. His kindness and generosity motivated me to stay with STT and gave me passion to continue to invest in the company. He definitely made a big impact on my family and me.
What has been your favorite part about working for STT?
My favorite part is working for our employees. I like to do things for the people who work for us to make sure they get what they deserve. I’m a people person and like to be out there with the people. I don’t look at myself as better than anyone, especially any of our employees; I’m just working with the employees to make sure they have what they need to be successful.
I’ve also really liked all the friends I’ve made along the way. I’ve gotten to know a handful of people who I still am friends with to this day.
What is your favorite story/experience from working with us?
We went way up north to a grocery store because there was footage of the night crew stealing. The store was open 24/7, and when we went in there with the evidence, one employee turned on someone else, then that person turned on someone else, and then went on and on until there was nobody left on the night crew; they were all stealing.
There are some other stories though that just make me sad. One time, a person lost their pension and entire future because of a gambling addiction. That person’s family found out when they were arrested for stealing from their job to fund the gambling addiction.
At [a Central Michigan University home football game], Denise and Calvin brought a student back to the track bay who was very inebriated. We gave him food and some water and charged his phone for him since that had died. Once he was a little more coherent, he called his friends and said, “Dude! I’m hanging out with the police here – they fed me and gave me water and charged my phone, they’re so cool. Can you come pick me up?” It was funny to see how happy he was that we were taking care of him instead of getting him in trouble. Security isn’t there to get anyone in trouble, that’s not what we do. We just want everyone to be safe. We wanted him to be able to contact his friends and get a ride home safely. One of our supervisors actually ended up driving him to [a nearby bar] so he could catch a cab home with his friends from there.
Another time [at a CMU home game] there was a person basically passed out drunk in a bush. This was a late-fall game, so it was freezing outside. People were just ignoring them laying there, so we got them in the gator and drove back where it was warm. We ended up calling someone from her recent calls list and getting that person to come pick them up.
What advice would you give to a new employee?
A new employee needs to own up to their mistakes. We know nobody is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. You need to learn to accept that and own up to them so you can grow not only as a better employee, but also as a better person. You should be responsive as well; do not present a problem without a solution. Always give 110% in everything you do; any job worth doing is worth doing the right way. Never stop learning; you can always grow in the position you are in even if it isn’t necessarily related to your job duties.
A good employee is honest, ambitious, and has a strong work ethic. They treat others the way they want to be treated.
Here are a few personal notes from those who work closest with Kathy:
Jim Dominowski: Wow. Thirty five years ago… Seems like just yesterday you were watching employee theft videos at my old house with Cheryl. How time flies. It has been a pleasure to work with someone that is so professional and dedicated. I hope you have a great day.
Denise Robertson: Kathy has been the backbone to our home office operation since I started with STT over 15 years ago. She is the kind of employee that every employer dreams of having; her dedication, commitment, and consistent contribution to our company is priceless. I know I speak for many fellow employees, but she truly makes STT better! She is funny and caring and can work circles around anyone. Thank you, Kathy, for all you do for our employees each and every day!
Scott Robertson: 35 years is a long time to be awesome! Seriously, Kathy is the cornerstone of STT Security. Without her this whole thing would fall down. Thanks Kathy for answering all my dumb questions, fixing my computer and paperwork errors, and always being willing to help.
Calvin Rusch: Kathy is hands down one of the most tenaciously hard working employees STT has known. Her commitment, thoughtfulness, and willingness to do whatever it takes for the overall success of the business is something few can match. STT would not be the same without you – thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do to support us!
Garrett Bakos: While I’ve only been around for a little over a year, I can very clearly see how dedicated you are to STT and its employees. I have never come to you with a problem that you couldn’t solve or needed help you couldn’t provide. Your passion, kindness, and overall personality show me exactly what sets STT apart from the rest. We are all so appreciative of all you do for us and for our employees. Thank you!