Buck Hogue, a former middle school teacher, realized his love for carpentry and construction while on a phone call with his sister. Jill Hogue, a middle school teacher herself, was offering Buck advice on classroom management strategies. She named a book that she believed would be very helpful for Buck to read. It turns out, he already owned the book, and had yet to crack it open. As she’s talking, he sees his feet propped up on a coffee table that he built in his spare time, next to a book about house framing. He realized in that moment that while he loved working with kids, he did not desire to learn how to be a good teacher. What he was passionate about was learning about construction and woodworking.
That summer, Buck and I (Renee) purchased a “fixer upper” home. Buck worked on it all summer, hiring various tradesmen when needed and learning from them. We made the decision for him to not go back to teaching, but to start Buck the Builder. He started out doing a lot of handyman projects for clients, and has slowly grown it to the remodeling and custom carpentry business that it is today.
Growing this business would not have been possible without numerous people God put in our lives. Barbara, who sold us our “fixer upper,” was also one of our first clients. She trusted us to tear apart her former home (even before we officially closed on it) and kept Buck busy for the first couple of months of business with projects at her new home.
Some of the first projects Buck did for Barbara, Fall 2013:
Our accountant friends, Will & Aubrey, were gracious enough to give us small business tax advice free of charge. Family members gave us money, gifted us tools, and were so supportive. We have had multiple labor helpers throughout the years who worked so hard for us: Josh J, Josh M, Jonathan, Kenny, Michael, Chester (who is now one of our project managers), and others. We were put in contact with Jason from High Octane Marketing who agreed to create this beautiful website in exchange for work on his home (if you found us through Google – it’s because of Jason). And our artist friend, Jeff, drew the illustration of Buck that is now our awesome logo.
Buck soon found a niche in building fences. His father, who worked a bull dozer and often times built fences for his clients, taught Buck the proper way to set a post and find a fence line. One of our first large projects was a fence for some friends. (We drive past it regularly as it is right by our daughter’s school; it is still standing strong and always makes us smile.) While Buck is quite good at building fences, he always desired to do remodeling and custom carpentry. He is extremely creative, and fences were not allowing him to use his creativity much. Plus, building fences in Texas summers is exhausting: we have great appreciation for those who do it!
Starting a business has certainly had its ups and downs, and there have been seasons of drought. I (Renee) was out walking in the neighborhood one day. Business had been really slow lately, and I was praying about what we needed to do to move forward. I came across a woman trying to repair a fence, and we started talking. I told her about our business, thinking she may want help with her fence. It turns out, her father Larry was looking for a carpenter to build Alumawood porch covers that he sold. Larry’s company got Buck the Builder out of the slow spell, and kept us busy for multiple summers. Larry has since retired, so we now sell the Alumawood covers and pergolas ourselves, but we are so thankful for the role Larry played in keeping our business going.
We eventually started getting calls for some interior work, and had some incredible and patient first remodel clients. Through connections in the field, we found subcontractors as needed, most of whom we still work with today. Our subs are some of our biggest blessings. They are reliable, easy to work with, professional, and do high quality work. They are the reason we can stand behind our remodels with the assurance that our clients will not have problems down the road. It is not lost on us that their hard work makes us look good!
Our first full kitchen remodel was in early 2016. Our clients, Andy & Carol, were very understanding, flexible, and gracious clients. We are so thankful they trusted us with such a large project in a home they plan to be in for a very long time. It was a big stepping stone (and learning process) for our business doing larger remodels.
When we started doing more remodels, we worked with Price Cabinets for all of our custom cabinetry. Ron Rusch, the owner of Price Cabinets, normally builds custom cabinets for new home builders, but was gracious to fulfill our remodel requests. However, building the quantity of cabinets that they do, there is typically a long wait, making it difficult to stick to the schedule of a remodel. Ron was also wanting to focus on just new homes, so we needed to figure out a different plan for our cabinetry. To this day, Ron allows us to have our cabinet material delivered to his shop since they have a proper lift, free of charge. We are so thankful for our relationship with Price Cabinets.
Buck knew he wanted to start building our own cabinets. A couple things fell into place for this to happen. Our good friends were looking to rent out a large workshop they had on their property, which they have graciously rented to us for the past three years. We also found David, an extremely skilled cabinet maker of 20 years, who had just moved back to Texas after owning his own woodworking business in the pacific northwest. He worked for us for about 18 months as our first full-time carpenter. Buck learned much of his cabinet-making skills from David, and we are so grateful for the contribution he made to our business.
Another big project for the growth of our company was a full first-floor remodel of a historic home for our clients Zach & Carisse. It was about a 4 month remodel, including a garage converted to living room, kitchen & bathroom remodel, and laundry room addition. It was an exciting opportunity, and we are still so thankful for Zach & Carisse and their trust in us to handle such a large project in a home that is so important to them. It allowed Buck to do exactly what he had been dreaming to do since he started the business.
Photos of Zach & Carisse’s remodel
At the beginning of 2018, after David had left, we knew we needed another full-time carpenter and project manager. Buck was starting to get backed up on phone calls and estimates, and was having trouble getting all of the work done in a timely manner. (It wasn’t a bad problem to have!) Chester Berg had helped Buck with some projects at the very beginning of our business, and Buck has always said, “whenever we hire a project manager, I want it to be someone like Chester.” Turns out, we got Chester himself. He had moved to Boerne, gotten married, and he and his wife were looking to move back to Bryan / College Station to be near family. He agreed to come work for us as our first project manager. Chester is an incredibly hard worker, dedicated, highly skilled, and has been so patient and flexible as our business continues to grow and change. We are so grateful to have Chester on our team!
In 2019, the work was continuing to increase, and we knew we needed another project manager. Our friend, Daniel Meadows, had been in Haiti for the past 6 years managing a high-end cabinetry and remodeling company, Maxima, a missional company focused on job creation for Haitians. Daniel has former experience as a project manager for an engineering company, woodworking experience as a former custom furniture builder, and remodeling and cabinet building experience from his time at Maxima. His skill and experience has been a huge asset to our company, and we are honored to have him on board.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us get to where we are today: friends, family, subcontractors, labor helpers, employees, and especially all of our clients! Looking back causes me to be extremely humbled at how God has continually opened doors for us to grow our business. We desire to be successful enough to give back generously to our community: some of the organizations we are passionate about are APO’s Mama Club, Tiny Hope Village, Unbound, and Mercy Project. We hope our business is a blessing to our clients, subcontractors, employees, and our community as a whole.