Wall in the Family

Family-run companies often possess a long view and consistency that comes from doing business across generational lines. Combining that perspective with a strong culture of innovation can be a recipe for great success. Miller Custom Exteriors in Fredericksburg, Ohio, has done just that. The company has been in business for more than 40 years but has reinvented itself several times during that period. A commitment to its customers and the ability to evolve with the market has continuously grown the firm’s success throughout the decades.

The company began with founder Jacob Miller Jr. building pole buildings with the Curry Lumber Co. in Wooster, Ohio. In 1974, he spun off his company, Benton Builders, as a separate corporation and continued serving the area. In the 1980s the focus moved to residential exteriors and seamless steel siding and gutters. Miller’s company has been an ABC Seamless franchise for 26 years, installing its seamless steel siding and gutters. It had been known as ABC Seamless of Northeast Ohio before embracing its family roots and changing its name to Miller Custom Exteriors in 2008. It remains a local, family-owned business with brothers Ed, Lorin, James, Nolan and Nate involved in the business.

Over the years, the operation has grown in scope to installing replacement windows, doors and metal roofing. Today, nearly half of Miller Custom Exteriors’ business is residential metal roofing, but seamless steel siding remains an important and popular offering. “After 26 years of installing seamless siding in this market, it has withstood the test of time, and the product has manifested its durability and beauty,” says Lorin Miller, president and co-owner of Miller Custom Exteriors. “While there are many other products available, we still believe some of the best-looking projects are produced with our seamless steel siding and custom-made trim.”

A long-standing commitment to customer service and satisfaction manifests itself in the company’s mission statement, “We do it right, or we do it over.” Miller also is known for a consultative, low-pressure approach to sales and marketing. “Our salespeople are not paid commissions, and we try not to push a particular product on homeowners,” Miller explains. “Instead, we focus on the needs of the customer and try to help them find the right product to fill that need. We want salespeople to be part of the team just like production and office staff, so paying them in the same way is helpful.”

Building strong relationships with its customers is, in many ways, the best marketing tactic the firm has. Nearly half of its business comes from referrals and from previous customers. Whatever the source, business has been strong and looks to stay on track. “We expect 2013 to be slightly better than 2012,” Miller says. “Our growth over the past four years has been excellent as we continue to see demand for renovations on single-family homes. I believe new home construction will still be sluggish, and the resale market won’t be strong; that is good news for companies in our position.”

In spite of decades of success, Miller Custom Exteriors is not resting on its laurels. “If you are not looking at doing business differently today than you did 10, 15 or 20 years ago, then you are probably not going to be around for much longer,” Miller asserts. “Customers are definitely spending money on home improvements, but they are more discerning with their funds. They want products and companies that are delivering more value for their money. We believe that providing strong customer service, expert workmanship and a variety of home exterior solutions will allow us to grow and be here in the future.”