Owner Talks Unique, Custom-Made Products
Photographer / Jubilee Edgell
For Merle Miller, the typical business day begins at 5 a.m. That’s the case for many Amish individuals, but Miller’s day doesn’t start with a shift at the trailer factory. It begins in his garage-turned-workroom as he builds custom cabinets for his business, Miller Custom Plastics.
Miller’s cabinets are high-quality products. Since they’re made of plastic the color doesn’t fade, nor do the cabinets crack. For Miller’s customers, these cabinets are a homeowner investment.
“They’re probably a little bit more expensive,” Miller says, comparing them to wooden cabinets found in big-box stores. “I can totally understand why – because of the materials. You’re only going to buy it once, and you shouldn’t have to worry about it.”
Just because Miller’s cabinets are durable doesn’t mean they have a simple design. He offers several colors to choose from, including five styles that resemble wood grain.
“You can put designs in the door,” Miller says. “You can make it look like raised panel, just like any wooden cabinet.”
Since starting the business more than a year ago, Miller has made a wide range of cabinets, from kitchen and bathroom to workshop and break room, as well as cabinets for basements and pool houses. They’re all custom made.
“It won’t rot, rust or mold,” Miller says of his cabinet material. “You can use water to wash them or pressure wash them, and it does not affect the material at all. It’s a nice, clean material.”
The way Miller constructs his cabinets can only be described as a work of art. The process begins when he receives a phone call from a potential client who wants an estimate, which Miller offers free of charge. He can usually produce a quote based off of a design print.
“I can also go out to the customer and they’ll walk through and say, ‘Hey, this is what we kind of want,’” Miller says. “I’ll draw it up to scale, quote it and send it back to the customer. If they want changes, they can let me know.”
After the client has chosen the style, designs and colors, the real fun begins. Miller makes the pattern, and then begins to frame the cabinet pieces and weld them together.
“I like new ideas and new challenges – imagining what a customer wants, then building what they are expecting,” Miller says. “It’s a neat challenge and kind of fun too.”
He’s even constructed a few original designs, including drawer boxes, adjustable shelves, and a pullout table that can stretch to eight feet.
The build process typically takes around one week, depending on the size of the order and how busy Miller is at any given time. After the build process is finished, the cabinets are taken to their new home.
“I do installation, but if the customer wants to do it themselves, that is available too,” Miller says.
For Miller, a job well done brings tremendous satisfaction.
“The best part of it is when you’re installing it or you’re done, and the customer says, ‘Wow, that’s nice,’ or, ‘I like that,’” he says. “Customer satisfaction is my goal. They’re going to have to look at it every day and I want them to be happy with it.”
There’s no doubt that Miller finds his work fulfilling, and it also provides opportunities to spend time with his family. His children, aged 6, 3 and 1, enjoy coming out to watch him work, and will frequently sit on a workbench and quietly watch as he welds cabinets together.
“They’re growing up, and I get to be part of that,” Miller says.
Miller also makes mailbox signs and business signs, as well as polyurethane trim for windows, doors and baseboards. Everything Miller makes is custom, and excellent for high-moisture areas.
“These cabinets will last a lifetime,” he says. “They’re homeowner friendly and construction worker friendly.”
Miller Custom Plastics is located at 27012 County Road 50 in Nappanee. Anyone interested in receiving a consultation can call 574-773-0569 to set up an appointment.