Contractor Spotlight: Buck Brothers Asphalt Paving & Concrete

The younger generations often get a bad reputation, but thinking that about the Buck Brothers couldn't be more wrong.

Zach Buck running the paver for Buck Brothers
Zach Buck running the paver for Buck Brothers

Jacob Buck would forgive you if, at first glance, you made an assumption about his position at Buck Brothers Asphalt Paving & Concrete. Despite how young he may appear (and be) this business has been in his blood the whole time. His father, Chad Buck, brought both him and his brother Zach up, like so many in the blacktop life, to appreciate the culture of owning a small business.  

Early on, they knew the value of a strong work ethic and consistency, because of the example they had watching their dad. Also, he didn’t cut them any slack when they started joining him on the jobsite. 

“If you weren’t at the door waiting for him in the morning you’d get left behind,” laughed Zach, as I rode on the back of their paver. Zach is the older of the two Buck Brothers, in its current iteration, and they have different approaches to their roles. 

When I joined them on a jobsite in the 2023 season, they seemed comfortable discussing what their different strengths and preferences are. “I’m mostly in the office, working on the operations side,” said Jacob. “But when we have a bigger job, I want to be out here.” 

Can’t Get Much Earlier Than This 

Starting at around thirteen years old, Jacob starting taking a real interest in the work his father did, going with him to job estimates, meetings with customers, observing the ins-and-outs of how the business side of things worked. 

“I did that for maybe three or four years,” Jacob said. “I just went around with my dad every day, especially in the summer.” But even during the school year, the work seemed to be all he could think about. 

“When I got into high school, I had a lot to do with the accounting side, because I could do it at school. I'd sit in the back of my classes on QuickBooks, matching transactions, paying bills, then answering emails, and entering contact information. That gave me a decent handle on the basics of accounting.” 

At the end of high school, Jacob and his brother Zach put their heads together and decided that continuing in the Buck Brothers tradition was the right move for them. For the newest generation of Buck-Bros, there was a lot of pressure during the transition where they took over the company. Their father was involved in the whole process, and still works alongside them in various important roles, but that didn’t change the fact that the future was now in their hands. 

The first big move they made was to hire a controller to manage the office work, which freed up Jacob to focus on stripping down the asphalt division and rebuilding it from the ground up. “We started three years ago, but this is really the first time my sole job has been running the asphalt division, as well as overseeing the others,” Jacob said. “Now, we don’t have any of the same people we had at the start. We have a whole new crew now, and they’re a lot more open minded about trying new things, new techniques, and technology stuff.” 

Swinging For The Fences 

Buck Brothers has increasingly become a fixture on social media, at various industry events, speaking on panels, guesting on industry podcasts, and doing so all while keeping the blacktop going down. Despite all this, as well as the many years of experience and support their dad provides to them, there are still new frontiers they are pushing into for themselves. Currently, that involved the research and purchase of the company’s first milling machine.  

They didn’t take the process lightly, because, as everyone knows, taking on a capital investment of this scale is no small endeavor. Even Chad voiced his concern and trepidation while speaking on an expert panel at the IGNITE 2023 conference. From the stage, he told the audience he was sweating the decision, but that his sons were nudging him along.  

They wanted to convince him that the opportunity for growth exceeded the initial investment. Jacob recognized that even just shifting all their subbed milling work internally would justify the decision, but, he also knew it could mean the chance to increase their reach by acting as a subcontractor for others. 

“The first thing you have to do is make sure it's a viable move," said Jacob.  Buck Brothers' new CAT PM820Buck Brothers' new CAT PM820

They took the number of years included in their equipment loan, which included the mill itself, as well as a new lowboy trailer to transport it, divided that into an annual payment total across eight months (the average active blacktop season in Northwest Ohio), and then compared that to the usual amounts they regularly pay out to subcontractors. As it turned out, it cost less to buy the new equipment.  

For the year ahead, new things await the young entrepreneurs, and their new CAT PM820!