Bieber Aplin on stage wearing a cowboy hat.A banner in the background reads: "McLain Leadership in Business Award"

Buc-ee’s founder Arch “Beaver” Aplin III received the 2022 McLane Leadership in Business Award on October 26, 2022 at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center.

Laura McKenzie/Texas A&M Marketing & Communications

The 2022 McLane Leadership in Business Award winner said her advice to students and young entrepreneurs is simple. Make a decision, roll up your sleeves, and act on your ideas.

That was Arch “Beaver” Aplin III’s course of action after graduating from Texas A&M University in 1980 with a degree in Construction Science. He returned home to work in his father’s construction and development business, but he soon realized it wasn’t his passion. Soon, Aplin turned to the idea of ​​opening his convenience store, inspired by his grandfather’s small general store in Louisiana.

Just two years after graduating, Aplin opened his first store in Lake Jackson, named after his pet Labrador, Buck. He shared the story behind the iconic multi-million dollar business Wednesday at Texas A&M’s Annenberg Presidential Conference Center and was honored as the recipient of this year’s McLain His Leadership Business Award. . This award is offered by the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy at the Bush-His School and recognizes an individual for his contribution to business, public service, or his service to the community at the national level.

In a moderated conversation with Raymond Robertson, director of the Mosbacher Institute, Aplin reflected on opening his first Buc-ee location. From that first his 3,000-square-foot store (a little larger than his 2,400 by industry standards), he’s now working on his soon-to-be-opening 74,000-square-foot location in Tennessee.

Aplin also discussed a second recent effort. Established an academic center on the Texas A&M campus to serve as an immersive learning lab for students. The university announced in June that he had made her $50 million donation to Aplin.

Still in the early stages of planning, the center will offer programs in hospitality, retail research and food development, as well as degree programs in viticulture, fermentation processes, coffee and food science. Aplin said the main partners in the project will be the University of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the Mays Business School, adding that the center has an “entrepreneurial spirit.”

With a prime location in the shadow of Kyle Field and across the street from the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center, Aplin wants the center to become a “gathering place” on campus.

“It’s going to be great,” he said. “It’s still on the whiteboard. It’s a blank slate. I’m glad I got the chance to build something from scratch.”

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