From Rowdy Teen to Rockstar Legacy: Celebrating Donny’s 46 Years of Dedication to Buechel Stone 

Think back to one of your first full-time jobs as a young adult. Did you ever imagine yourself still working there in 10 years? Or even 5? Some days you maybe wondered if you would still work there by the end of the week. We’d guess the thought of one day retiring from that company rarely – if ever – crossed your mind. 

With average employee tenure hovering around 4 years, it’s extremely uncommon to see someone retire from a company that hired them as a teenager. Only 18% of working adults stay with a company for over 30 years, and statistics on employees with tenures over that 30-year mark are impossible to find. 

Just like you at that first job, 19-year-old Donny Fesing never even considered that he’d retire one day from Buechel Stone. Now, 46 years (and 7 months) later, we are celebrating not only Donny’s dedication, but also the significant impact he made on those who had the pleasure of working with him.

As the third non-Buechel family member to be hired at Buechel Stone, Donny came to us as a teenager looking for beer money during picnic season. It wouldn’t be long, though, before we’d start to see what kind of an impact he would have on his colleagues and this company. 

Donny wore quite a few hats over the past 46 years: belt piler, material handler, saw operator, loader operator, supervisor, scheduler, and, as he approached retirement, a floater in our production facility. But the job titles don’t even begin to capture who Donny was to his fellow Rockstars. Donny has also served as a mentor, leader, positive example, comic relief, and friend.

A Life Changing Influence

One of Scott Buechel’s favorite stories of Donny happened about 20 years into Donny’s career. A machine malfunctioned, and Donny sent the crew outside while they waited for it to be fixed. Donny noticed a pallet of stone that he felt was poorly stacked, so instead of waiting with the others, he took it upon himself to repalletize it.

One of his newer crew members named Lamont approached him, questioning why he would fuss over something so insignificant. Donny’s response? “I’ve put my life into this place, and I won’t let that kind of attitude mess it up. This is important!”

Those words resonated with Lamont who, like Donny at the start of his career, had never thought about a job as more than a paycheck. Lamont has now been a Buechel Rockstar for 25 years and counting. He credits Donny to this day for having a positive influence on him and believes he became a better person because of it. 

Donny, middle, pictured here with other Buechel Rockstars including Lamont, second from the left.

“We as owners may be the face of the organization, but it’s our Rockstars that ARE the organization,” says Scott. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.” Donny’s career has been a critical piece and a great example of how true that is. We couldn’t be more thankful for all that Donny has done for Buechel Stone, the legacy that he has left, and the Rockstars he has influenced.

Learning And Leading By Example

Ownership Mentality is one of our five core values, and for us it means taking responsibility and pride in the work you do, even if sometimes the task isn’t in your job description. It’s about seeing the big picture, knowing that every Rockstar’s job is as important as the next, and working as a team to be successful as a whole. In his 46 years here, Donny embodied what that meant.  

Donny surpassing the top of our Rockstar Extreme Anniversary Program in 2022 with his 45 year anniversary. Here he is celebrating with Mike, Tim, and Scott Buechel.

That ownership mentality example was first set back in the early days by Pa Buechel. He didn’t just own the company, he stepped up to help with any detail that was necessary to keep things running. Donny was a lot like Pa in that respect – always willing to help where it was needed, even if it wasn’t his job. Donny recalls early on when Tim Buechel operated one of the splitters but would also need to step away to take phone calls. Donny said he would jump in, pick up where Tim left off, and just start cutting to keep the flow or production going. He never let a job title or description hold him back from pitching in with whatever needed to get done.

What’s Donny’s secret to his lengthy career here? “Enjoy what you do; pride and ownership will follow.” While Donny is thankful to Tim and Scott Buechel for taking a chance on him and hiring a rebellious teen, things shifted when ownership could see his impact on others. Even when he could have taken a job elsewhere, Donny stayed with Buechel Stone because “people were smiling at work”—something he didn’t see at other companies. He turned that into a purpose for coming to work each day. While every day wasn’t always easy, Donny loved his work and the people he was doing it for.

It would have been easy to just give Donny a cake, his retirement check, and a pat on the back and say “good job Donny.” But that didn’t feel anywhere near significant enough. People need to know they make a difference not only in a company, but in the lives of others, and Donny has made 46 years (and seven months) worth of a difference here at Buechel Stone. Thank you for taking the time to learn about Donny and what one person’s “job” can mean to others. It’s all part of what makes him special.  

You may be wondering, what’s Donny’s plan for all his free time? He’s going to travel the countryside in his new RV, looking for his next adventure with his friend Sue! 

Cheers to you, Donny. Thank you again for your years of dedication to Buechel Stone, your retirement is well deserved. We wish you the best on all your new adventures!