NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Western New York business owner is making a huge gift to many of his employees. The owner of Budwey’s grocery store in North Tonawanda has announced he’s giving each of his 33 full time employees a share in his company.
Budwey’s has been family owned for 90 years now, and the current owner, Frank Budwey, says his employees that are becoming his business partners are members of the family, too. Budwey says, with only a couple weeks until he turns 66 and can begin collecting Social Security, the decision to give his employees a share in the company was a matter of timing. “What many of us know is that when you leave the business, when you leave it to your kids, sometimes it dies within two years or three years,” he explained.
Budwey says his succession plans with his employees will ensure the company can keep going strong for years to come.
“I can’t explain how much it means,” said one of the employees who is getting a share of the business, Mike Stachoski. “I’ve never heard of anything like this.”
The news of the gifts came as a big surprise to employees, who were told of the plans at a banquet Thursday night. Budwey had told them all it was a mandatory meeting to talk about the upcoming remodel at the North Tonawanda store. “So we kind of told a little white lie,” Budwey laughed.
There is actually a remodel in the works for the store, as Frank Budwey is investing more than a million dollars on things on things like new LED lighting, new cash registers, and a new dairy case. “Everything we’re doing is going to bring our energy costs and the operation, automatically make it more profitable,” Budwey explained. Of course, that means more money for all of the stake holders.
“My wife and kids are just going to be happy and everything is going to be great. I mean he’s helped us out. Couldn’t ask for a better boss, really,” said one of the new stake holders, Jerry Dumais, the meat supervisor.
“I felt so proud to wake up this morning and come in, and just the feeling here is uplifting in North Tonawanda,” Stachoski said. “We’re trying to get our customers back here and i tell you know we’re going to get them back.”
Customers at the store on Friday said they were impressed with Frank Budwey’s actions. “He’s a good guy and his employees are all good long-time employees,” said customer Elaine Siegmann, adding that she was pleased to be able to shop at Budwey’s and support the business because of that.
Those employees who have received shares will be paid out at book value whenever they leave the company.
The name of the corporation will change to reflect the new part-owners, but the name of the store will remain the same. The owners, including the employees who now hold shares, say the store’s commitment to its customers will stay the same, too.