Posted on

Miller Kitchen started small, went straight to big time

Miller Kitchen started small, went straight to big time
Miller Kitchen started small, went straight to big time
Monty and Pam Miller will celebrate their first 10 years in designing and selling custom wood kitchen cabinetry with an open house Friday at their showrooms on S.R. 135 south of New Salisbury. (Photo by Randy West)

Don’t let the entrance to Miller Kitchens fool you.
The modest little storefront at the odd three-road intersection off S.R. 135 south of New Salisbury used to be a Western Auto store. For several years it sat empty.
Ten years ago, Monty L. Miller struck out on his own in kitchen cabinet sales and distribution. He bought the property on 135 and ‘started small,’ hoping to increase his business year by year. Now it’s the nerve center of Miller Kitchen Distributors, and there’s much more there than meets the eye. The 20 custom wood kitchen cabinet displays are handsome and go on and on in nine rooms.
The first room the customer enters is what designer Paul Hughes calls ‘The Hub’ or the reception room, and it’s a very busy place. Receptionist/designer/expediter Sara Miller sits at the center of The Hub. There you will find a top-of-the-line cherry Mouser Custom Cabinetry display. Mouser is a fourth generation custom cabinet company in Elizabethtown, Ky., says Monty Miller, 53. He learned his business working for 22 years with Oddas and Callie Schmidt at Schmidt Cabinet Co. in New Salisbury. He started there when he was 16.
Walk back into the second room of the store and you’ll find another Mouser display, this one a large kitchen island with a raised bar, butcher block and Zodiac quartz countertop.
On the right side in the third room is a Blue River entertainment center, and on the left an alder wood hutch done by Dyansty, an Iowa company.
In the fourth room is a Dynasty kitchen hearth area. Next to that is another Homecrest kitchen, Miller’s stock cabinet. On the right is a Blue River kitchen made from wood in the Amish tradition. (Blue River cabinets are made in Fredericksburg, which is Amish country.)
The room also features cherry and oak kitchens; some are painted.
Continue on and you’ll find a Blue River vanity, Homecrest bar from Goshen, Ind., a laundry room or ‘mud room’ area, a cherry Homecrest vanity, Homecrest kitchen in hickory or maple, and, finally, the ‘Selection room’ has an array of hardware and countertop samples in quartz, laminate (Formica) and ‘solid surface,’ like Corian, Hi-Macs and Staron. Quartz countertops are the new big thing, replacing granite, because they require almost no maintenance, Miller said.
After you’ve walked through all 3,200 square feet of Miller Kitchens, you’ll think you’re in a fancy Louisville store, but you’re still outside New Salisbury.
Miller says the typical customer reaction to his displays is, ‘Oh, man, where did all that come from?’
He and his wife, Pam, started out with an eight-by-12-foot display of Haas Cabinetry from Sellersburg and exceeded their sales goal ($250,000) the first year by $160,000, selling primarily to builders and retail customers. He had a part-time installation crew. Now he has nine full-time employees, two installation crews, and a lot of business from Harrison and Floyd counties in Indiana and Louisville. Miller did $2.5 million last year.
Miller makes and installs their countertops and designs almost all the kichens they sell. ‘Design is a big factor anymore, even in the small homes and spec homes,’ he said. His work has won many industry awards, including Best Kitchen at the Southern Indiana Home Builders Association Home Expo his first year in business.
Forty-five percent of Miller’s business comes from Louisville, and he gets calls from Lexington and Cincinnati. He was one of the first kitchen cabinet companies to try radio advertising, in 1996. Miller was featured on Terry Meiners’ afternoon talk show on WHAS (within the first two hours he got four calls and two jobs), and now he’s leaning to the Joe B. Hall and Denny Crum show, perhaps because Miller is partial to basketball. He was a basketball star at North Harrison High School in the late 1960s.
Although Miller Kitchens now does cabinetry for every room in the house, it specializes, as its name says, in custom kitchen cabinets. Miller designs about 125 kitchen projects a year (and occasionally large commercial kitchens) in traditional, contemporary, even stainless steel designs. The projects range in price from $1,000 to $100,000. (Yes, some people order $100,000 kitchens.) ‘We treat them all the same,’ Miller said. ‘We try to be really good at our service work.’
The big trend these days, especially in big homes, is to blend the kitchen, where modern families and their friends tend to congregate the most, into the TV or family room, where the food often winds up. Kitchens and bathrooms are getting bigger, Miller said. In fact, many remodeling jobs include taking out a wall so the kitchen is more open or can be a continuation of the family room.
The general public is invited to tour Miller Kitchens Friday between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. at an open house that will celebrate its first 10 years in business. There will be grilled hamburgers and hot dogs plus door prizes that include a coffee machine, golf balls, Cracker Barrel and O’Charley’s gift cards, Corian and Kindred sinks, a 40-quart cooler, sports chairs, and five percent off Blue River kitchens.