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Continuous improvement – because details matter

Chilton-headquartered Buechel Stone Corporation puts strong focus on employee satisfaction, having fun

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April 5, 2023

CHILTON – Employee attraction and retention continue to be a prominent focus for today’s job market – which has many companies doing what they can to stand out amongst the rest.

Buechel Stone Corporation, a stone quarrier and fabricator headquartered in Chilton, was recently recognized for its effort toward employee satisfaction – by being named a 2023 Top Workplace in the USA.

Buechel Vice President Mike Buechel said the company was humbled and relieved that what they live and breathe is making Buechel Stone a great place to work.

According to, the list is compiled from anonymous surveys taken by employees.

Mike said he credits part of Bueschel’s ascension up the ranks to national recognition to the changes the company made due to what it learned from its employees through the survey process.

This isn’t the first time Buechel has participated in the recognition program – however, this is the first time the Northeast Wisconsin company was highlighted on a national level.

The first time around, Buechel landed a regional honor as No. 53 among workplaces in Southeast Wisconsin for 2022.

Using the feedback provided by employees that first year, Mike said the company implemented changes, resulting now in a Top Workplaces USA 2023 recognition.
A quest for quality
Buechel Stone Corporation (W3639 Co Hwy H) got its start in 1964 when Francis and Alyce Buechel converted their 125-acre family farm to a quarry.

A few years ago, Buechel Director of Operations Kory Bestul said managers at Buechel Stone – which has quarry locations in Wisconsin, Kansas and North Carolina – were looking at what the company could do better.

“Our main focus was to quantify where we were at from a culture/people perspective,” he said. “We felt we were doing well, but good, anonymous feedback was not readily available.”

In 2021, Bestul was serving as director of culture for the company and spent that summer researching employee feedback systems and stumbled upon Energage – which administers anonymous employee satisfaction surveys in conjunction with Top Workplaces USA. 

According to Energage (pronounced enner-gage), the firm has worked with more than 70,000 workplaces – with 26 million workers having taken Energage surveys over the last 16 years.

One of Buechel Stone Corporation’s “Rockstars” splits stones during his shift. Buechel was recently named a 2023 Top Workplace in the USA. Photo Courtesy of Buechel Stone Corporation

Bestul said Energage surveys ask participants to rate to what degree they agree with certain statements. 

An online sample of the survey included statements about feeling appreciated at work and informed about important decisions, as well as the effectiveness of supervisors, wage fairness, whether the company was living up to the employee’s expectations, and strong values in the context of workplace operations. 

Bestul said companies that participate are also able to tailor the questions to their respective industries.

“We wanted honest and thoughtful responses, so we gave our ‘Rockstars’ (which is the name Buechel Stone gives to its employees) the opportunity to complete the survey during work time,” Buechel said in his Year in Review company report.

Company-wide, 160 of the company’s 195 employees took the survey, an 82.1% response rate, which Bestul said is higher than other companies in the same industry.

“They saw how their feedback from the previous year really mattered, and we listened,” Ada Rosario-Portorreal, benefits coordinator for Buechel, said. “For a lot of people, it was all about being heard.”

Buechel competed against about 22,680 businesses for the top workplace award in the 150-499 employee size band, making the Chilton stone fabricator among the top 2.9% of workplaces to work for in the country.

According to, on average, fewer than 3% of eligible organizations earn a Top Workplaces designation.
Some other Wisconsin companies in the same size category (150-499 employees) that also garnered notice from the Top Workplaces include: Carma Laboratories, makers of Carmex (Franklin); Bank Five Nine (Oconomowoc); Cesa 1 (Pewaukee) VJS Construction Services (Pewaukee); C.G. Schmidt (Milwaukee); Good Karma Brands (Milwaukee); and Zuern Building Products & Design Center (Slinger).
If at first
Not content to settle for last year’s state honor, Bestul said management at Buechel took a hard look at the survey data to see how the company could do even better for its employees.

“What was great about the survey was that we were able to segment the feedback into different groups of employees and work on specific items with the leaders in those departments,” he said. 

Bestul said the company noticed a few overarching issues that seemed consistent from one department to the next – including several questions about the direction of the company.

Bestul said the management team knew it had to do a better job of communicating with the employees.

“As a leadership team, we better refined exactly what our long-term vision was and worked that information into the quarterly meetings that we have with all our employees,” he said. “We also went more in-depth with our leaders to ensure that they understood why we operate the way we do, and what it means to be the best experience in the natural stone industry.”
‘Reach for the stars to change the world’
Bestul said he was the one on the leadership team that spearheaded the company’s Energage action plan.

He said he and his team implemented changes, starting with enabling departments to collaborate and giving employees more voice in the operation.

Buechel Stone Corporation Vice President Mike Buechel

Bestul said the company also launched its extreme anniversary program, which it calls REAP (Rockstar Extreme Anniversary Present) – which rewards employees for their longevity with the company with gifts, such as money, power tools, trips and goodies.

Bestul said the program gets progressively more elaborate the longer an employee continues working there.

He said the program aims to improve employee retention while also recognizing and rewarding their loyalty.  

Last year, Bestul said 14 of Buechel’s employees hit their five-year-increment work anniversaries, with the longest tenure being 45 years.
Rules of the house
Buechel’s website lists “Have fun” as its No. 1 rule.

Bestul said “not to get nitpicky,” but it’s more than a rule – it’s a core value.

“It’s funny to say, but we take having fun very seriously,” he said. “Our team works hard. No one here has a cakewalk of a job, and we understand that. Ensuring that we’re taking the time to have fun can mean so many things.” 

Bestul said his company also takes the usual holiday parties, summer company picnics and quarterly catered meetings to a whole new level – adding in a few extras as well.

He said the human resources team works to ensure the company keeps the fun in the everyday.

“They might be walking around, dressed as baristas with coffee, handing out snacks randomly to our team or setting up a random challenge that has a PTO (paid time off) reward associated with it,” he said.?

The company owners also participate in the fun, Bestul said.

“Our production team tried kicking soccer balls past (our company owners),” he said. “The person that got the most through won a day of PTO.”

Bestul said Buechel has found the survey and application process for Top Workplaces USA to be helpful. 

“The feedback we have gotten has been of great value to us, and we are always striving to improve,” Bestul said. 

He said they will “absolutely” be doing it again – and get even more of the leadership team involved in the process.

“There’s a lot of room for us to grow by sharing that responsibility with our leaders and managers,” he said.

Buechel said that opportunity is something you choose, while responsibility is something to take on.

“There is a difference,” he said. “As a Top Workplace in the United States, I would say we are taking that responsibility seriously, and the rest of the country is noticing, one Rockstar at a time.”

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