Buzick Construction Inc.
- Written by: Talo Thomson
- Produced by: John Carioti
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Founded in 1937, Buzick Construction Inc. (Buzick) has played an integral role in the whiskey and bourbon industry for 77 years. Founder Cliff Buzick started out as a salesman of distillery equipment. When Cliff noticed the lack of whiskey warehouse builders, he decided to fill that niche and moved into construction.
Cliff’s son, Donald Buzick, ran the company for many years. Tom Blincoe, Donald’s son-in-law and president of Buzick, now leads the company. During his time with the company, Tom has overseen the construction of more than 2 million barrel spaces across Kentucky and Tennessee.
Buzick has been family-owned since its founding. “I’ve been working in the business since 1975,” Tom shares. “And now my son and daughter are, too, so it’s always been a family business. We’ve had people here more than 50 years: second, third and fourth generations of workers.”
The company’s customer retention is high, as well, as many of Buzick’s clients have stuck with the company since its founding. In fact, Buzick built its first barrel-aging warehouse in 1941, which is still in use today.
As a design-build general contractor, Buzick specializes in barrel-aging warehouses and any form of distillery construction. “We work with everything that goes along with every kind of manufacturing facility,” Tom adds.
A flexible team enables the group to build outside the bourbon box, too, constructing banks, information centers and office properties. In fact, the Buzick team helped Brown-Forman win a national historic preservation award for its restoration of Woodford Reserve Distillery.
“Right now, bourbon warehouses are the majority of our business,” Tom elaborates. “The bourbon industry is growing so fast. It’s growing exponentially because it’s become so much more popular. Also, the quality has improved; the products are so much better and they’re in very high demand.”
According to Tom, the bourbon industry has seen increasing demand, both at home and abroad. In 2013, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, bourbon and Tennessee whiskey sales increased by 6.8 percent in the U.S.
Buzick is headquartered in Bardstown, Ky., on a 7-acre office complex and employs 170 people. Bardstown is widely considered the bourbon capital of the world – not to mention the most beautiful small town in America.
“We keep most of our work within a one-hour driving radius of our location,” Tom notes. Bardstown’s prime location allows the company to service all the big names in bourbon.
Buzick’s clout has attracted a diversity of business. “We built a brand new distillery from scratch for Wild Turkey five years ago,” Tom states. The $43-million project funded the construction of a 130,000-square-foot warehouse, a new bottling facility and top-of-the line distillery equipment.
“We also did power and light, electric and set up stainless steel tanks, which are made locally,” Tom continues. The capacity to self-perform the majority of general construction has made Buzick the go-to company for all things bourbon.
“We’ve built for Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, Barton Brands, Wild Turkey, Brown Forman and Four Roses,” shares Tom. “Those are the big names we’ve been working with, and we’ve built a lot of bourbon warehouses for them, which are great projects. We were at Jack Daniel’s for almost 50 years. We started with them when they were just a small distillery.” Tom played a crucial role in Jack Daniel’s transformation into a household name, overseeing the construction of 39 warehouses 37 years ago.
“We’re working with 50,000 barrels per warehouse,” he explains. “We use all wood construction for these rack warehouses where they store the barrels, and these barrel rooms are truly unique. There’s nothing else like them in the whole United States. We have people come in from all over the country to look at them and their jaws drop – most people have never seen anything like this before.” The warehouses store and age the bourbon barrels between four to 20 years before going to market.
Recession? What recession?
The increasing popularity of bourbon helped Buzick weather the recession. “We just haven’t had any downturn in the bourbon industry since I began,” Tom shares. “We’ve been in the right place at the right time, with the best people with the right experience.” Fortune aside, business practices founded on integrity have been a key piece to the company’s success.
Above all else, customer service comes first at Buzick. “We always take care of our customers with honesty,” Tom explains. “They call us up because they know we’re going to take care of them, period, and we’re not going to gouge them. My motto is: make a little bit over a long time. We just try to make a fair profit and do the best job we can for the owner, and all of my people understand that. We’re as reputable as we can be.”
Tom’s outlook for the future is confident. As the bourbon industry grows rapidly and bourbon popularity increases, he foresees nothing but expansion. “We have work lined up for 10 years,” says the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame inductee. With 77 years of experience and the best team in the business, Buzick Construction Inc. will continue to play a prominent role in the future, and growth, of the bourbon and whiskey industry.
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