Amanda and Alan Beers had radically different career goals when they moved from South Florida to the Charleston area in 2019. But when the COVID-19 shutdown led to a series of roadblocks and an unexpected layoff, the couple not only pivoted but prospered.
“In three weeks, we started Beers Millwork,” says Alan Beers, who was let go from his sales job at a local building supply company in May 2020 due to cutbacks resulting from the pandemic. His wife, Amanda, had planned to open a childcare center near their new home in Mount Pleasant, having worked in the industry for 16 years, but she kept hitting a dead end in her search for a location. Finding themselves both unemployed, the couple decided to reassess their options.
“We sat down and said, ‘We moved here to open a business. Let’s take our experience, harness that, and start from the ground up,’” Amanda Beers recalls. They chose to launch a millwork supply company, leveraging Alan’s 17 years of experience selling custom and commodity doors, moldings and door hardware, and Amanda’s background in business operations. Within a few short months, the entrepreneurial pair had gained the trust of local builders and designers. They also discovered that the roadblocks to their original plans were detours leading to their dream.
While other industries were suffering in 2020, the construction business in the Charleston area was booming. “The majority of our customers are custom builders and contractors; however, tradesmen were contacting us, too, and even some homeowners,” says Alan Beers.
The nascent company got off to a healthy start and was relatively unfazed by supply chain issues, thanks to the strong relationships he had developed with manufacturers during his years selling building supplies in Florida.
Beers Millwork quickly expanded its footprint in the Charleston market by offering custom doors and moldings, stair parts, decking and railing materials, as well as hardware for doors and cabinets. Although the couple plans to continue growing the business, they are committed to maintaining personalized service with a hands-on approach. With the larger companies, customers aren’t dealing with an owner or manager, says Alan Beers, but with a salesperson who may or may not have much experience. “One thing we’ve told our customers is that you’ll always have me to rely on. You’ll have my phone number, and you’ll have my eyes on the job,” he says.
Amanda Beers notes: “The growth plan we have for the company includes adding supporting roles to sustain the business while maintaining Alan’s level of experience and knowledge through intentional touch points. This is important to keep in mind as the company continues to scale.” Millwork is not just their business but also her husband’s passion. “He’s really striving to make millwork a piece of art in the home and approaches every project with that mentality. Whether the customer needs a track for a door or an entire trim package, Alan will dedicate the same time and energy to ensure they receive exceptional service,” she adds.
Although Beers Millwork provides the commodity products that large suppliers offer, the company’s focus on custom materials combined with Alan Beers’ creative input on projects has set it apart from competitors. Beers spends much of his time educating customers about the products that are available and will reach out to his network to find materials that provide the exact look and feel that the builder or designer hopes to achieve. “We’re more than a supplier—we’re your teammate and a resource,” he says.
The couple is also committed to maintaining a family feel for their business. Photos on the Beers Millwork social media accounts often feature their two young sons, who frequently spend time at the warehouse or accompany their father to a jobsite. “Being able to share this with our children is very important,” says Alan Beers. He sees the business as a tool to teach his boys valuable life lessons and help them develop a strong work ethic while also connecting as a family.
In the wake of closures and layoffs, one of the most important lessons the couple wants their boys to know is that a setback also can open a door to opportunity. “We lost our jobs before starting this business, but you have to think about how to push through the challenges you face,” says Alan Beers. “With hard work and imagination, anything is possible.”
Leslie J. Thompson is a Dallas-based freelance writer with a passion for the visual arts, interior design and international travel. Read more of her work at lesliejthompson.com.