Betting the Farm and Believing in the Stone Industry

Great life stories do not have the words could have, should have, or would have. All regrets in life do. I am a firm believer people can make their own destiny, only if they are willing to take the risks and responsibilities associated with the decisions they make. I spend time every day working with others on decisions needed to keep a business in the stone industry running in 2018. It’s a much different business today than it was at its early years. Business decisions today affect 150 employees and their families. The rules of owning a business in the stone industry are more complex. I’m lucky, we have a great team making things happen daily and continuing to make Buechel Stone a great place to work and do business.

Believing in Themselves

There is one thing that hasn’t changed from when Buechel Stone first started to today. When you read or hear about great businesses, there’s one thing that reoccurs often. No one will believe in your business if you don’t believe in yourself and the business you want to build.

Buechel Stone founders betting on the stone industry - Buechel family in the stone business today

When I think about my grandparents’ (Ma and Pa) decision to start a new business with nothing more than the land they had and the kids in their family, I am a bit in awe. Just the idea of starting something from nothing is a big step for a lot of people. Sure, they also had a farm at the time to fall back on, and if any of you have ever worked on a farm, you know there are few jobs more demanding of your time than a farm, much less starting another business in the stone industry as well.

Betting and Banking on Buechel Stone

When Pa first started, the stone cutting he did was done with a dry saw. Over time it harmed his lungs to the point he had to choose; either process the stone in a different way, or quit the stone business. Pa was determined to make it work, and he did something few people would have the bravery to do. He bet the sure thing – the farm, for something uncharted – Buechel Stone.

1949 Buechel farm / homestead before betting on the stone industry

Ma and Pa went to the bank to get a loan for a stone splitter, which was a huge investment. Before this, all processing he did was done with a Carborundum circular saw blade, a hammer, and chisels – minimal capital. A quick fun little fact: there were search engines before Google. Pa remembered there was a company somewhere in Minnesota that made stone splitting machines for their peers in the natural stone industry, but couldn’t remember who it was or how to contact them. This was 1965. They called the phone operator and she said she would find out who the company was. A couple days later she called back with the information to contact Park Industries in Minnesota. It’s a little off point but a tidbit of info I always think is fun. It is amazing the way things were done in the past, much less the patience required to wait on information. Back then information was also at your fingertips, you just had to be willing to give it a day or two!


So Ma and Pa went to the local bank for a loan to purchase a new splitter. When there, the banker wanted Pa to co-sign with his father even though he was married with kids and a farm. The banker stated, “Francis, you have to understand. If you were getting a manure spreader or another piece of farm equipment we could sell it. What are we supposed to do with a stone splitter when you go bankrupt?” Pa always talked about how it was never stated if they went bankrupt, it was predetermined that by starting a business in the stone industry they would go bankrupt.

They got up to leave, stating they would find someone else who believed in them. Pa had too much pride to have a co-signed loan. No sooner did they stand up than the banker told them to hold on, they could figure something else out. Ma and Pa returned and discussed other options. They agreed to a contract that had them betting the farm in the event they went bankrupt. Everything they owned was put on the line with this decision. All the farm equipment and livestock, and the new splitter.

Buechel Stone industry - loan and collateral documents for first stone splitter

There’re a couple of things I love about this story. The first is the loan – look at it! At one time you could take out a loan with all the collateral you have and it only took two pages and one signature. That loan in today’s dollars would be over $44,000. How many pages would that same loan require today?

Heartfelt Faith and Leadership

Another thing I love about this is the true belief Ma and Pa had in their idea. They saw something in this new endeavor into the stone industry that no one else did. It was the eye of an entrepreneur who wouldn’t take no for an answer. For someone to be a true leader, they have to have complete faith in themselves long before anyone else does.

There is a reason Buechel Stone has been so successful over the years and has grown into a leadership position in the natural stone industry. It started at its roots, with a decision based on faith and believing your gut instinct. That trust created a business that is not great because of our products, but because of the people we have and what we are do for our customers. We do what we say, and make sure to take care of the employees and the customer. Buechel Stone’s mission statement is to be the best, most dependable experience in the natural stone industry – guaranteed. When we state that, it is not a slogan; it’s a differentiator. We do whatever we can to make our customers’ problems and struggles an opportunity to make their lives easier. It goes for our employees as well. We want them to have a great work day with clean and comfortable facilities – almost zero work is done outside. They are kept in the loop about the state of the business through monthly updates from their supervisors and quarterly meetings. They are rewarded with our Extreme Anniversary Program with great gifts they get to pick out every five years.

Buechel stone industry extreme anniversary program recipients

We know when people think of the natural stone industry it is not exactly portrayed as glamorous. People often joke about our industry being “in the stone age.” That’s why we have been working hard to change the perspective of what a company in the natural stone industry is and what it means to work at one. Every day we continue the tradition first started by Ma and Pa; to believe in something others might not, and trust those around you to build something great. Want to find out more about Buechel Stone and why we are different? Click on the picture of Buechel Stone’s homestead below. We’d love to hear from you!


E.E. Cummings said, “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” We continue to honor the courage and belief by which Buechel Stone was founded and built by living out our mission of providing the best, most dependable experience in the natural stone industry – guaranteed! JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER to be notified of everything our team of Buechel Stone #Rockstars is doing to ensure a future built by your own project success stories.

Mike Buechel
Buechel Stone Corp