Local Family Carves Out a Unique Business

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Stones form an interesting aspect of the northern Indiana landscape. For farmers, stones are often a nuisance. For landscapers, they can make unique garden borders. Large stones often stand as land markers in parks, and make sturdy jungle gyms for children. For Marlin and Rose Miller of Bremen, stones provide the foundation of a business they founded more than 10 years ago.

Back in 2009, the Millers established Artistic Stone, a masonry business that specializes in stone veneer.

“[Marlin] wanted to get out of the factory, so we checked into stone veneer,” Rose says.

As people who believe strongly in the importance of family, the Millers felt the business presented an opportunity for increased family time.

“It’s nice that we can work together,” Rose says.

One of the Millers’ favorite work-from-home benefits is that Artistic Stone provides an opportunity for their six children to gain skills and knowledge they might not otherwise acquire.

The stones are all hand crafted from a sturdy mixture made of concrete and a form of clay called lightweight haydite. Every stone is molded individually.

“We don’t have panels that we pour and then put the panels on the wall,” Rose says.

The molded stones are also dyed to make them look real.

“I’m the one who mixes the dye and comes up with new colors if somebody wants a new color,” Rose says. “I enjoy that, just to see how many different color combinations I can come up with.”

Since there are so many options available, the stones can be almost any color the customer prefers.

The Millers have five different stone styles that they can mold in-house, depending on a customer’s desires, and any design can be made with any color. On the rare occasion that a customer wants a veneer style that isn’t possible to make in the Artistic Stone workshop, the Millers have been known to outsource.

When it’s time to begin a new project, Marlin visits the build site before giving the customer a free quote. When the customer has chosen the style and color, the stones are colored and crafted in the Artistic Stone workshop by hand. Next, the project area at the worksite is prepared with tar paper, wire mesh and mortar. After the preparation has set, the Artistic Stone team installs the stonework. Typically, it only takes a few days to finish a project.

“From start to finish, depending on how big the job is, sometimes I can have the job done by the end of the week,” Marlin says.

Artistic Stone’s service area stretches into Illinois and Michigan, although most business happens in northern and north-central Indiana.

“He’s gone as far as two to three hours’ drive to get to the property where they’re installing,” says Rose of Marlin’s clientele.

Any given Artistic Stone project is limited only to imagination. Plus, the veneer lasts a long time, especially if it receives proper maintenance. This includes putting a sealer on it occasionally.

“It doesn’t take much,” Marlin says.

In the past, the Millers have created accent walls, fireplaces, raised flower beds, retaining walls, mailboxes, chimney caps, outdoor kitchens and dozens of other projects. It’s extremely specialized work, and the Millers plan on keeping it that way.

“We don’t have a bunch of people out on the job, which keeps our quality consistent,” explains Rose, adding that the Millers are seeking to grow their business in the area. “Basically, no job is too big or small.”

Artistic Stone’s veneer is ideal for a someone interested in giving their property a unique look.

“[Marlin’s] done some lake houses and just a lot of local families who just wanted to add a creative touch to their homes,” Rose says. “We’ve done some businesses of course, but a majority is a homeowner who wants to add an elegant look to their home.”

For more information on Bremen-based Artistic Stone, and to get a free estimate or ask for a brochure, call them at 574-546-3771.

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