The Buckeye Story: Weathering the Storm

It’s amazing the changes you witness after 75 years of business. The booms and recessions, American exchange at par and at $1.50, to changes in government regulations like boating licences and mandatory seat belt wear to a pandemic that forced us to change at the drop of a hat….We have run the gamut!

Like every small business, the learning curve can be interesting to say the least and sometimes fraught with challenges. From the most colourful stories, like the time Nana Joyce and Great Nana Rosa went on a late-night trip to pick up a load of night crawlers for the bait store and learned that they should have kept the light on in the station wagon to stop the crawling of the worms. The ladies were covered in the creepers and the car was a mess. Not only was the car the pick-up and delivery vehicle for the business, it was the only mode of transportation for the family! It was quite the smelly, sticky mess so the story goes. Today we have a “fleet” of vehicles and late-night worm pick-ups are no longer part of our world!

Another story that illustrates the learning curve was the time Gary went to pick up a load of tinnies for the first time while still at high school. It was a stack of several 14’ aluminum boats strapped together one on top of the other. The stack was tall and was loaded in the back of the pick-up truck, but not well secured. Consequently, the load tipped as he drove around the first corner, spilling all over the road. You can imagine that never happened to him again, and securing a load became a lesson everyone who ever worked for us learned day one! (Even so, there have been a handful of other interesting incidents over the years!)

Those challenges provided learning moments for the new entrepreneurs of which we now have the luxury of getting a chuckle. One story of relatively recent memory, and not so humourous was having to remove literally tonnes of snow to get in the gate after a massive snowstorm plugged our 5-acre lot. Over $10,000 in fees to plow and remove innumerable truckloads of snow from our front parking area just to open the doors will remain a very not so fun memorable moment!

Recent challenges have been more sobering, like dealing with the pandemic, something the first and second generation never saw. The resulting changes in business practices and shortages of product was never ever anything that we had experienced in the 70 years prior. We have weathered economic ups and downs well over the years by hard work and good management. Once upon a time we didn’t take a wage from the business all winter and would take part time jobs to get through to spring keeping the business intact. Challenges are opportunities to learn and grow and we have all done both in abundance over the decades.

Along with the transformation of the Buckeye family of businesses through the generations, each business has evolved in its own way. Over the 75 years there have been immense change in every aspect of small business operation, and we all strive to stay up to date and relevant as the years unfold. From dialing just 4 digits to make a local call, having to connect with the local telephone operator for her to place long distance calls, and worrying about missing a business opportunity if you didn’t pick up the phone in time, to cell phones and the multi-line computer monitored telecommunication systems we have in place today, times have changed!

There are so many advancements that have come along over the years that we have eagerly embraced, and we believe that’s a big part of our success throughout the generations.