1113 Buds Best Cookies
Bud’s Best CEO Bud Cason with his favorite chocolate chip cookies. Photo by Lauren Moriarty.
Bigger doesn’t always mean better. That’s what Bud Cason of Bud’s Best Cookies learned in nutrition class. The second bite satisfies an urge for something sweet, his teacher taught him. After that you are just eating for the sake of eating.
And with that piece of knowledge, Cason had an idea.
“I thought, ‘That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to make a bite-sized cookie,’” Cason said.
Cason was no stranger to the cookie business when the bite-sized inspiration came. He began working at his aunt and uncle’s Avondale cookie shop, Greg’s Cookies, at the age of 12 during the summer. Watching the process of the cookies being mixed, baked and sold for 1 cent apiece in the corner grocery store would inspire his own career.
Cason bought Greg’s Cookies in 1968, and in 1970 he had complete ownership. A year after Cason became owner, the economy changed.
“Nixon sold wheat to Russia, and commodity prices went crazy,” he said.
Forced to up the prices of his product, he soon found customers did not want to pay 2 cents for the cookies that previously cost 1 cent. He began packaging the cookies together and selling them in Kmart at three for $1. It turned out to be a good business move, because calls for more orders started coming in.
Thanks to the success of the packaged cookies, Cason outgrew the Avondale bakery and bought Tennessee-based Bishop Baking Company in 1983. He later sold both companies. During his five-year noncompete period, Cason took the nutrition class that inspired his idea for bite-sized cookies.
In 1991, Bud’s Best opened for business in the former location of Baxter Medical in Hoover. When the Riverchase Architectural Committee raised concerns about potential odors coming from the cookie plant, Cason assured them it would be nothing more than a sweet aroma.
As the CEO of Bud’s Best, Cason said he is grateful for Hoover’s support.
“There is a high quality of people here in Hoover, from the attitude of the administration to the fire and police departments,” he said.
Cason’s factory employs around 150 people, including his son, Al, who works as president and COO. He chooses to operate his business based on the golden rule.
“I want to treat my employees as I would want them to treat me,” he said.
For Cason, this means creating a welcoming work environment where management furnishes complete uniforms, covers total insurance costs and has incentive programs such as Employee of the Month. Cason also promises employees $1,000 if they successfully stop smoking.
“We really care about our people,” he said.
Those interested in following the sweet aroma wafting from Bud’s Best are welcome to take a tour. Cason’s daughter, Jane, leads groups through the factory complete with cookie samples. Cason said groups of all ages enjoy riding the cookie train and seeing the cookies being mixed, baked, packaged, cased, stacked on pallets and loaded into tractor-trailers.
Cason also donates cookies to local nursing homes and charity events such as Lemonade and Cookies for Multiple Sclerosis and supports the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.
In addition to his line of bite-sized cookies, Cason started the Uncle Al’s line of larger cookies. Bud’s Best bite-sized oatmeal, chocolate chip, macaroon and cream-filled sandwich cookies are customer favorites, Cason said, though he favors the chocolate chip cookies himself.