Buc-ee Founder Powers Texas A&M’s New $50 Million Immersive Learning Lab

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

Buc-ee’s brain Arch “Beaver” Aplin III will commit $50 million to establish an academic center at Texas A&M University to serve as an immersive learning lab, the school announcement.

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

This new facility will also house product development labs and food tasting centers that can be used in partnership with related industries, according to a press release. The retail and restaurant areas will be managed by students and faculty. Students can also expect indoor and outdoor recreation areas.

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

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

The Buc-ee founder, in turn, noted that Banks’ vision for a “world-class hospitality entrepreneurship program” is “exactly what Texas A&M needs and I’m proud to have the opportunity. to get involved”.

Two years after graduating, Aplin opened his first Buc-ee’s in 1982 in Lake Jackson. His beaver empire has since expanded to five more states, with development underway in five more. Aplin brand features include immaculate restrooms, endless fuel pumps, a huge selection of food and consumables.

Along with its cult reputation and customer favorite, Buc-ee’s offers employee health insurance and pays more than double the minimum wage. Earlier this year, the convenience store-rest stop hybrid received national attention on CBS Sunday morning. July 28 marks the 40th anniversary of Buc-ee.

“When Beaver Aplin does something, it’s never halfway there,” A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said in a statement. “The love he has and shows for Texas A&M and the Aggies is inspiring and appreciated. This is a great gift and will position Texas A&M to be the best hospitality program in the nation.

Aggie through and through, Aplin, who sits on myriad boards and is also president of Texas Parks and Wildlife, once preached the gospel of College Station at a conference in 2012, telling the class “I have to remember – I have to stay Castor. I have to stay at Buc-ee’s. I have to stay Aggie and I have to stay who I am.

Norma A. Roth