Steve Buckler teased a customer enjoying one of McBuns Bakery’s pastries as he walked by the cashier. “It’s good isn’t it?” he laughs.
In this family-owned bakery, the relationship with customers is very important.
“It’s not so much a supplier-customer [relationship], it’s Steve and John,” he says. “We know all our customers like that.”
But Steve and Patty Buckler will soon no longer be the owners of McBuns. The company has been sold to another family-run bakery from New Brunswick, Mrs. Dunsters, which is owned by Blair and Rosalyn Hyslop. Steve says the change of ownership is about timing.
“It’s a little bit of mixed emotions,” he says. “For us as entrepreneurs and owning your own business, it’s about having an exit strategy that makes sense. In this instance, we were very fortunate to find the right buyer early.”
McBuns has been around for more than 30 years in Moncton. It operates a bakery and retail store on Shediac Road and another retail store on Mountain Road. It also distributes its products to various restaurants and retail stores in the Moncton area.
Steve says passing the business down to their three children was never the plan. Selling the business is the first step in their retirement plan, though he’s not quite ready to do that yet.
“Patty and I, we have a grandson now that’s two,” he says. “Patty’s already stepped back from the business to babysit him and I love spending time with the little guy as well. But I’m not ready to retire yet. I still have years to work and contribute and do positive things, so I’m looking forward to starting a new adventure in that capacity.”
Once the transaction is closed in January, Steve will be the Director of Operations for Mrs. Dunsters four bakeries in Sussex, Moncton, Borden, P.E.I., and Hampton (the owners of Mrs. Dunsters also recently purchased Kredl’s Corner Market in Hampton).
The Hyslops won’t change the McBuns name and all of McBuns’ employees will retain their jobs.
“[McBuns is] another crown jewel in New Brunswick,” said Blair Hyslop in a recent interview with Huddle. “It’s been in business for 33 years. It’s well-entrenched in the market in Moncton, and it has great employees.”
Steve says McBuns customers will love the additional new products from Mrs. Dunsters.
I’m excited to add the products that [Mrs. Dunsters] make that we currently don’t make into our stores,” he says. “Their donuts are second to none, and to be able to offer those to customer fresh is something to be excited about. Their English muffins are certainly something we could use.”
With the announcement still fresh, Steve is getting reactions from customers, suppliers and staff. Customers are expressing curiosity rather than worry, he says.
“We’ve had some calls saying, ‘are you still going to make your diet whole wheat bread?’ Yes, we are. And it’s not only that we’re going to continue making those products, it’s the same people making them,” he says. “Products can come and go in a business like ours, and that’ll continue, but all of our mainstay favourites that people buy every day, there won’t be any changes to that at all.”
Gene Hogan, the owner of an auto repair business in Moncton, has been a regular customer of McBuns for at least six years. The bakery’s well-known diet bread and cookies are some of his favourites. As an entrepreneur himself, he understands the evolution that businesses have to go through.
“It is what it is,” says Hogan. “Businesses change. I’ll still be going there. I don’t live far from there.”
Shawna Martell, a Moncton-based sales executive for online car auction company eBlock, is a loyal customer of Mrs. Dunsters. She has also bought baked products from McBuns. Martell says aside from the food, the friendly atmosphere at Mrs. Dunsters has kept her coming back.
“Although [McBuns] is being purchased by another company, they’re being purchased by another company that operates very much like they do, you know? They’re family-based and it creates the same type of environment when you go in.”