Beaver powered

Buc-ee's founder fuels Texas A&M's new $50M immersive learning laboratory

Buc-ee's founder Arch Aplin III is gifting $50M to A&M's new facility. Buc-ee's/Facebook

The founder of Lone Star State’s favorite rest stop/gas station/car wash/cultural beacon has just made a Texas-sized investment in a major state university.

Buc-ee’s mastermind Arch “Beaver” Aplin III will commit $50 million toward establishing a Texas A&M University academic center that will serve as an immersive learning laboratory, the school announced.

Dubbed the Aplin Center (Aplin graduated from A&M in 1980), the hub will offer new university programs in hospitality, retail studies, and food product development through degree programs including viticulture, fermentation processes, coffee, and food science.

This new facility also will house product development laboratories and food tasting centers that can be utilized in partnership with related industries, according to a press release. Retail and food services areas will be managed by students and faculty. Students can also expect indoor and outdoor recreational spaces.

The center will be built across the street from the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center near Wellborn Road and Kyle Field.

Aplin’s $50 million commitment marks one of the largest single donations in Texas A&M history. “Arch ‘Beaver’ Aplin is a true visionary and one of the most creative entrepreneurs I have known,” said school president Dr. M. Katherine Banks in a statement. “He remains connected to his university, speaking to many students who share his passion for business and product development. Through this generous gift, he is creating a living, learning laboratory that will provide transformational opportunities for our students. The Aplin Center will positively impact Aggies for generations to come.”

Buc-ee’s founder, in turn, noted that Banks’ vision of a “world-class hospitality entrepreneurship program” is “just what Texas A&M needs and I’m proud to have an opportunity to be involved.”

Two years after graduation, Aplin opened his first Buc-ee’s in 1982 in Lake Jackson. His beaver empire has since expanded into five other states, with development underway in another five. Aplin’s brand hallmarks include pristine restrooms, endless fuel pumps, a vast selection of food and consumer items.

Besides its reputation as a cult and customer favorite, Buc-ee’s offers health insurance to employees and pays more than twice the amount of minimum wage. Earlier this year, the convenience store-rest stop hybrid received nationwide attention on CBS Sunday Morning. July 28 marks Buc-ee’s 40th anniversary.

“When Beaver Aplin does something, it’s never halfway,” said A&M System chancellor John Sharp in a statement. “The love he has and shows for Texas A&M and Aggies is inspirational and appreciated. This is an awesome gift and will position Texas A&M to become the top hospitality program in the nation.”

An Aggie through and through, Aplin, who serves on myriad boards and is also chairman of Texas Parks and Wildlife, once preached the College Station gospel during a lecture in 2012, telling the class, “I have to remember — I’ve gotta stay Beaver. I’ve gotta stay Buc-ee’s. I’ve gotta stay Aggie and I’ve gotta stay who I am.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Here's your one-stop shop for innovation events in Houston this month. Photo via Getty Images

Houstonians are transitioning into a new summer month, and the city's business community is mixing in networking and conference events with family vacations and time off. Here's a rundown of what all to throw on your calendar for July when it comes to innovation-related events.

This article will be updated as more business and tech events are announced.

July 10 — Have a Nice Day Market at the Ion

Stop by for a one-of-a-kind vendor market - #HaveANiceDayHTX - taking place at the Ion, Houston's newest urban district and collaborative space that is designed to provide the city a place where entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities can come together. Free to attend and free parking onsite.

Have a Nice Day is a creative collective with a goal of celebrating BIPOC makers, creators, and causes.

The event is Sunday, July 10, 4 to 8 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 12 — One Houston Together Webinar Series

In the first installment of the Partnership's One Houston Together webinar series, we will discuss supplier diversity an often underutilized resource for business. What is it and why is it important? How can supplier diversity have long-term impact on your business, help strengthen your supply chain, and make a positive community impact?

The event is Tuesday, July 12, noon to 1 pm, online. Click here to register.

July 14 — Investor Speaker Series: Both Sides of the Coin

In the next installment of Greentown Labs' Investor Speaker Series, sit down with two Greentown founders and their investors as they talk about their experiences working together before, during, and after an equity investment was made in the company. Attendees will get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most important relationships in a startup’s journey and what best practices both founders and investors can follow to keep things moving smoothly.

The event is Thursday, July 14, 1 to 2:30 pm, online. Click here to register.

July 15 — SBA Funding Fair

Mark Winchester, the Deputy District Director for the Houston District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, will give a short intro of the programs the mentors will discuss. There will be three government guaranteed loan mentors and two to three mentors co-mentoring with remote SBIR experts.

The event is Friday, July 15, 10:30 am to 1 pm, at The Cannon - West Houston. Click here to register.

July 16 — Bots and Bytes: Family STEAM Day

Join the Ion for a hands-on learning experience to learn about tech and robotics and gain insight into the professional skills and concepts needed to excel in a robotics or tech career. This event will be tailored for 9-14-year-olds for a fun STEM experience.

The event is Saturday, July 16, 10 am to 1 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 19 — How to Start a Startup

You have an idea...now what? Before you start looking for funding, it's important to make sure that your idea is both viable and valuable -- if it doesn't have a sound model and a market willing to pay for it, investors won't be interested anyway.

The event is Tuesday, July 19, 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 20 — Perfecting Your Pitch

Join the Ion for their series with DeckLaunch and Fresh Tech Solutionz as they discuss the importance and value of your pitch deck when reaching your target audience.

The event is Wednesday, July 20, 5:30 to 6:30 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 21 — Transition On Tap: Investor Readiness with Vinson & Elkins LLP

Attorneys from Greentown Labs’ Gigawatt Partner Vinson & Elkins LLP, a leading fund- and company-side advisor for clean energy financing, will present an overview of legal considerations in cleantech investing, geared especially toward early-stage companies and investors. The presentation will cover the types of investors and deals in the cleantech space and also provide background on negotiating valuation, term sheets, and preparing for diligence.

The event is Thursday, July 21, 5 to 7 pm, at Greentown Houston. Click here to register.

July 28 — The Cannon Community 2nd Annual Town Hall Event

Partner of The Cannon, Baker Tilly, has played an integral part in the success of Cannon member companies. Join the Cannon community for The Cannon's 5-year anniversary celebration!

The event is Thursday, July 28, 4 to 7 pm, at The Cannon - West Houston. Click here to register.

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