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RACINE — Bukacek Construction has now entered a third generation of the founding family — and for the first time is woman-owned.

Friday, Andrea Bukacek, granddaughter of company founder James Bukacek, closed on the purchase of Bukacek Construction’s assets. Besides owner, she became CEO, and the previous CEO, Jim Cairns, is now president.

Bukacek, who left the world of banking to join the family business, takes the reins at age 34 — coincidentally, the same age her father, the late Nick Bukacek, took over the company from his father, James.

Although she is the third generation of family ownership, Andrea Bukacek is actually the fourth owner of Bukacek Construction: She bought the company from the employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP, that had bought it from Nick Bukacek in 2001. The 17 members in that ESOP voted unanimously on Aug. 27 to sell their shares to Andrea Bukacek.

She and Cairns explained that they have been talking about succession planning for Bukacek Construction for about the past three years, knowing the ESOP members would want to liquidate their shares to create their retirement packages.

“At that point,” Cairns said, “it was me approaching (her) and talking to Andrea about maybe potentially coming to work: ‘Think about a career for yourself in this area.’”

He thought her background made her a perfect fit.

“Plus, your name is Bukacek,” added Cairns, who has spent 42 years with the company, rising from a cement finisher, then carpenter all the way up the ladder to president to CEO — and now back to president.

When Cairns first approached Andrea about coming into her namesake company at 2429 Summit Ave., the timing wasn’t right for Bukacek. But last August, she started seriously considering it.

“Jim and I happened to run into each other, actually, at Animal Crackers and kind of restarted that conversation, and from there I said, ‘You know, I think this might be the time.’”

Now, Bukacek noted, “In the first time in the history of the company, it is woman-owned.”

Raised around construction

Although she spent the past 12 years in commercial banking, Bukacek said she soaked up plenty of construction knowledge growing up in the family whose last name in Czech means, appropriately, “woodworker.”

“My dad made it a point to take us kids around the job site all the time,” Bukacek said. “I’d come to the office … He had a drafting table in the house, so there was always blueprints around that we were looking at.”

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She also worked at the family company during summers in high school.

“That was always a good learning experience because you see one side at home, and then you come here in the office and I’m like: Oh, my dad’s not just my dad — he’s the boss here,” Bukacek said with a laugh. “I guess I’d better listen to him, then!”

As new owner-CEO, Bukacek said, “We want to operate the business in a way that, what’s worked in the past,” which includes keeping all existing employees. That number fluctuates from 25 to about 40, Cairns said.

Bukacek explained about her title of CEO and Cairns’ of president, “We thought that was best to show our working relationship: that Jim is staying on in a very similar capacity, and that we’ll be approaching this together as a team.”

Bukacek Construction does very few residential projects, instead choosing to work in commercial/industrial, retail, healthcare, education and the like.

“We hope that our connections together bring a stronger team together,” Cairns said.

Bukacek said her intent is to grow her newly acquired company, and said, “I will focus a lot on that.”

“I think there is a lot of activity in Racine; I think we have the opportunity to capitalize on it — not just in Racine, but in this whole marketplace in southeastern Wisconsin,” she said.

However, Bukacek added, “We’re loyal to Racine, and we feel this is our home market, so we want to make sure that we’re really focusing on the opportunities here as well.”

Cairns said, “It’s not often that anyone gets to be employed by one company for 42 years,” Cairns said. “You kind of grow up with it. It becomes your life. … They treated me like a family. Jim did. Nick did: as a brother.”

Cairns continued, “I know that Jim and Nick would be so proud to see Andrea take this business over, because it takes passion. But it’s fun when you’re helping other people achieve something.”

“It would be really great if my Grandpa Jim and my dad were around to see all this,” Bukacek said. “But I think they’d be really proud of the direction we’re going to go, and I think they’d be very excited about that.”

“I think there is a lot of activity in Racine; I think we have the opportunity to capitalize on it — not just in Racine, but in this whole marketplace in southeastern Wisconsin.” Andrea Bukacek, Owner and CEO of Bukacek Construction

“I think there is a lot of activity in Racine; I think we have the opportunity to capitalize on it — not just in Racine, but in this whole marketplace in southeastern Wisconsin.” Andrea Bukacek, Owner and CEO of Bukacek Construction

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Reporter

Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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