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ENTREPRENEURS OF THE YEAR: 2016

Creating Convenience

Brian Buswell’s All American Do it Center carved out a market in Western Wisconsin.

Brian Buswell (left) has grown All American Do it Center to three locations and more than 100 team members—including his son, Jacob Buswell (right).
Brian Buswell (left) has grown All American Do it Center to three locations and more than 100 team members—including his son, Jacob Buswell (right).

It’s rare these days to cross paths with an LBM dealer who is a first-generation business owner, someone who didn’t grow up working in a lumberyard. But Brian Buswell of All American Do it Center in western Wisconsin, bet the family farm—literally—to make it happen.

Buswell knew from an early age that he wanted to work for himself. After a college education focused on business administration, Buswell and his wife, Debra, looked for businesses to purchase. From restaurants, to vending machine companies, to a root beer stand, no business made as much sense to Buswell as opening a lumberyard. Buswell had worked at a lumberyard during college. After graduating, he took on a sales role until he could find his own business.

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When he found the yard he wanted, there was just one sticking point. “A small lumberyard in Norwalk, Wis.—population less than 500— became available. The problem was, we didn’t have any money,” Buswell said.

Looking back, Buswell said he might have been a bit naive in assuming a bank would lend a small business loan to a 24-year-old with no equity. “I didn’t want to ask my parents for help, and I didn’t, but they came forward with an offer to cosign. They had just recently paid off the family farm. They were willing to put that up as collateral,” Buswell said. “I was a young, wet-behind-the-ears 24-year-old. At the time I didn’t think it was a big deal. But looking back at it now…wow. I wonder if I would do the same thing for my children. Was it a crazy idea from a 24-year-old?”

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