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Success Presents Expansion Opportunities For G.F. Buche Co.

Buche

Buche Foods is much more than a grocery chain in South Dakota. It began in 1905 with Gus Buche in a town called Lake Andes on the Yankton Sioux Reservation.

“My great-grandfather just answered an ad to come over and be a manager for this grocery store. A year later, he bought them out,” said RF Buche, president and CEO of G.F. Buche Co., parent company of Buche Foods.

Buche

Before he acquired it, the store went by the name of Moneke. When the elder Buche bought it, he changed the name to G.F. Buche Co. He then began to grow the business, amassing nearly 20 stores before the Great Depression.

“Not only did he survive the Depression, but he paid every invoice and he paid every one of them on time,” RF Buche said. 

But he did get knocked down to a “handful of stores.” By the 1990s, the Buche family had grown back to nine locations. “My grandpa took over for my great-grandpa. My dad took over from his dad and then I bought my dad out. I became president in 2000,” Buche said. 

Under his guidance, the company has grown to 23 stores. These include six dedicated Buche Foods grocery stores and eight dedicated Gus Stop convenience stores, along with an auto parts location, a few fast-food eateries and four hardware shops. The company also has a combination grocery/c-store, Buche’s Gus Stop. 

“We’ve done really well when we can cross-market those stores,” Buche said. “A couple of them are in the same parking lot. So we do a lot of gas savings through our grocery buying. For instance, in 2023, we offer [customers who] spent $50 with Buche Foods 20 cents off a gallon of gas at a Gus Stop.”

In addition, the company does cross-merchandising between its grocery and c-store locations. A part of that involves the Buche Foods brand. Its private label has about three dozen product categories, as well as a partnership with Associated Wholesale Grocers to sell its Best Choice and Always Saves brands. 

“I’m a big believer that, unfortunately, we can all sell the same can of beans,” he said. “So you have to differentiate yourself a little bit. We try and do that in products where we can. We might also bring in all South Dakota products or products with our name on them. Just makes us a bit different.”

Buche

The Buche Foods chain has seen much success following the COVID-19 pandemic and, in turn, has reinvested in itself – both the stores and employees. This includes remodeling all six locations and implementing a paycheck protection program. 

During the pandemic, the company gave out bonuses, which were on a  monthly basis and based on the number of hours worked. It also created new benefits. 

“One we call ‘Six for Six’…if they work for six hours and they don’t leave the facility, we give them $6 off of a meal,” Buche said. “It’s just something that incentivizes them to continue to stay and work with us. 

“We did a $2,000 bonus, which is new for us. I think it’s pretty aggressive for a small company…we gave a lot of money to our people during and since that time.”

The programs seem to have had a positive impact on the company’s retention rate. According to Buche, most of his retail colleagues are facing a 10 to 25 percent labor shortage. Since implementing the programs and launching a “what it means to work with G.F. Buche Co.” campaign, his employee gap rate has fallen to 3 percent. 

He plans to continue expanding the G.F. Buche Co. footprint, possibly beyond South Dakota. This includes all of the G.F. Buche brands.

“We’ve got convenience store opportunity. We’ve got hardware opportunity and we’ve got grocery opportunity,” he said. 

Buche

About the author

Jack R. Jordan

Content Creator

Jordan joined The Shelby Report in May 2022 after over a year in the newspaper industry. A native of Marietta, Georgia, he studied writing and communications at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. He spends too much time in the grocery store trying to find recipe ingredients, so he looks forward to covering the industry.

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Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
Chicago, Illinois
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