When Josh Miller was 11 years old, he swept the floors at Oak Heritage, his father’s woodworking shop in Pennsylvania. He jokes that his mother was nervous for her children to be around saws, so he picked up the broom. While sweeping sawdust, Miller learned about the raw materials needed for woodworking and how to sand, handle lumber and saw. As he honed his craft, he got better at assembly, working for his dad throughout high school and during the summers while he attended college to obtain a degree in civil engineering from Pennsylvania State University.
“I loved the entrepreneurship of the business,” he says. He eventually launched his own business selling birdhouses, hanging baskets and Americana flags. “My dad allowed me to use his shop to create all the pieces. It was a huge gift, and the machinery was superb!” says Miller, who mastered his skills with the saw.
It was his love of working with wood and passion for the spirit of entrepreneurship that propelled Miller to go into business with his wife, Tanya. Her skill set as a strong salesperson and crackerjack customer service representative complement her husband’s analytical assets. The couple make a powerful team and grew their business by doing arts and crafts shows on the East Coast.
They eventually left their day jobs, as an engineer and a counselor, to devote their energy to building their business, North Crate & Co. After spending a decade on the arts and crafts show circuit and renting space, the Millers started a family and opened a storefront in Pennsylvania to showcase their handmade furniture and unique home décor.
Their family and business continued to grow, leading them to open a second space in Pennsylvania and a store in South Carolina. “The weather in South Carolina is awesome, and the people here appreciate what we are doing,” says Miller. They now have three children and recently purchased a home in Mount Pleasant.
“What sets us apart from other companies is that we build our own chairs,” says Miller. Along with making tables and chairs, North Crate & Co. designs and creates heirloom bedroom furniture and entertainment centers, hutches and buffets. The products range in price and size. Miller notes that the footstool is a favorite product at shows. “It’s something that people can take home and inspect for quality. They gain our trust and are willing to make a bigger investment in the future,” he says. Customer service is the cornerstone of the company, which builds, sells and delivers its products.
“It’s all about efficiency,” says Miller. He notes the irony that he is doing sales and his wife is handling the books to maintain family harmony. While he dreams of someday having 50 stores around the country, for now, he is grateful that he can travel to art shows and come home to be with his family.
“Family is everything,” says Miller. “I am so grateful to be blessed to provide our local communities with exceptional furniture and service while growing with our gifted team members.” He recently began bringing his 11-year-old daughter, Harlee, to shows, where she helps people check out.
The Millers are excited to be part of the Mount Pleasant community with a store located in Towne Centre Mall, and they hope to make your house feel like a home. Anchored in his belief that creating a warm environment inspires families and individuals to flourish, Miller pulls up one of his handmade chairs and reflects on furniture and faith, saying: “I rely on my faith to run my business and navigate life. You need to treat others as you want to be treated and rely on the spirit inside you to get through tough times.”
Stacey Marcus is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle, luxury and travel writer. Her works have appeared in Art New England, Boston, Boston Common Magazine, Coastal Design Magazine, Charleston Style & Design, Modern Luxury Chicago, Ocean Home Magazine, Playboy.com, RD.com and many others. A lover of big words and little white dogs, Stacey’s biggest joys are found in life’s simple moments.