Employees key to Buechel Stone growth
By Mark Sherry
The sounds of splitters, saws and other equipment can be heard daily at Buechel Stone Corp.’s facility on CTH H west of New Holstein. At the company’s quarry in Oakfield (right), the sounds in the past year were of heavy equipment filling in 11 acres of former quarry which someday soon will be farm land again.

Things are looking leaner at Buechel Stone Corp. these days—but that is a good thing.

The “leaner” aspect is actually the waistlines of some of the employees as the company based at N3639 CTH H, Chilton embarked on a wellness program in the past year.

The company’s Mike Buechel said the several dozen employees who have participated are having fun with the creative activities which have been devised to help workers shed a few pounds and get in better shape.

One of those activities has been a penny war in which teams were chosen and then the teams designated charities to support. Whichever team totaled the most steps would win the money for their charity, but the opposing teams could put non-pennies in the other teams’ containers to counteract their donations.

Everyone wins

In the end, everyone was a winner. Buechel Stone Corp. employees had fun, focused on moving around more, and the company gave donations to all the designated charities.

Another activity was a “Poker Walk” in which employees received a playing card for every so many steps walked. Another activity involved donating food items to the Holyland Food Pantry. Employees can earn “wellness points” for participating in such activities and then use those points for picking prizes such as hats, shirts, and jackets.

For the year roughly $20,000 in donations were made to over 20 organizations and, collectively, employees lost almost 500 pounds by making healthier lifestyle choices.

Buechel Stone Corp. is hardly the company Francis and Alyce Buechel founded in 1964. Back then the company sent the stone quarried from Francis and Alyce’s converted 125-acre farm throughout a 100-mile radius of its rural Chilton base. Buechel Stone Corp. is hardly the company Francis and Alyce Buechel founded in 1964. Back then the company sent the stone quarried from Francis and Alyce’s converted 125-acre farm in a 100-mile radius of its rural Chilton base. Now it is shipped in some of the most unlikely places such as Hawaii, the Bahamas, and Alaska. Mike said business has been good and growing in the last couple years with a number of factors playing into that. Employee retention has been very good and can be attributed to the company’s Human Resources manager April Dowland being proactive and looking for ways to keep employees informed about what is going on in the business. “We realize how critical all employees are to the business’s long-term growth. Things like flat screen TVs in the break-rooms that have informational slides and all-employee quarterly meetings help. We also have quarterly performance reviews for the employees that can include raises,” Dowland said.

WELCOA award won

Buechel Stone also recently received a WELCOA award. The Well Workplace Award designation is awarded throughout the year to employers from around the nation that have implemented corporate health initiatives to improve the lives of their employees. The Well Workplace Awards initiative is driven by a rigorous set of criteria outlined in WELCOA’s seven benchmarks to a results-oriented Well Workplace.

As Mike and I walked through the facility on a busy winter’s day recently, he pointed out employees preparing stone for a large home being constructed in California. He talked about how their stone ends up on buildings throughout the country and Canada. Outside, a large inventory of quarried stone from Texas, Kansas, Indiana, and a number of other places waits to be cut. That stone has been shipped to Buechel for processing, in large part because the company has the equipment and the work ethic to do the job right.

Like many business’ progress these days, Buechel Stone’s success is tied closely with what is happening in markets worldwide, and company leaders keep a close eye on those markets.

Their growth is also tied to the North American economy, especially in the construction trades. Local contractors are reporting improving markets for new home building, and Mike Buechel said he is seeing that nationwide. “In general, the housing and commercial construction business is slowly moving back up again,” he said.

From a single fireplace or patio at a home in this area to a home or commercial structure made largely of stone in a state far away, what is quarried and/ or processed at Buechel Stone in the Chilton, Fond du Lac, and Oakfield areas can end up there.

While quarrying has been going on just outside what is now his office window for more than 50 years, Mike said they have barely scratched the surface of the stone that is there.

It is a slightly different story at Buechel Stone’s quarry in Oakfield, where in the past two years they have worked to reclaim about 11 acres of former quarry. Buechel Stone filled in the areas with soil and a few years from now it likely will be leased to an area farmer for crop land. Small ponds have been added for wildlife to access. It is just one example of how the company is concerned for the environment and wants to be good stewards of the land long term.

“We believe in all aspects of the quarrying process, which means we do what we say,” said Scott Buechel, executive vice president of Buechel Stone Corp. “Reclamation is important to us. If you truly want to be a good member of the community, it means doing the right things for the people living where we do business.”

Energy efficient lighting installed

Along those same environmental lines, in the past year Buechel Stone Corp. has invested about $100,000 in new, energy efficient lighting throughout its buildings. Working with The Wasmer Company of New Holstein, Buechel Stone not only will be able to see a relatively quick return on its investment but it is also providing much better lighting conditions for its employees. “It literally is night and day,” Mike said of the difference.

Mike pointed out that some company functions have been brought indoors from once being done outdoors, and that makes life easier on employees—as does the company’s willingness to continually upgrade saws and other equipment. Buechel Stone has also invested in employees, as several have taken classes on manufacturing initiatives, and many more are getting classes for CNC production. The company is currently hiring for first and second shifts. Interested workers can see more information and/or apply online at www.buechelstone.com/employment.php.

The entire team at Buechel Stone Corp. has obviously done its job well as in the past year the company received the Family First Business Award for Northeast Wisconsin. The award is presented to family-owned companies which are good places to work and which are making a difference in northeast Wisconsin.