Miller Stove & Fireplace Has Been Keeping Fires Burning for Nearly 35 Years
Writer / Lois Tomaszewski
Photographer / Tony Straw
Many things are passed down from father to son – values, character traits, family history and sometimes even the family business. After decades of leadership under Ernie Miller, his son, Matt Miller, is the new owner of Miller Stove & Fireplace in Bremen.
For 34 years, it has been the place to go for quality fireplaces, stoves, furnaces and equipment needs for outdoor kitchens. It has, as the company logo says, been providing quality and comfort for the area since 1989.
“Heating is essential,” Matt Miller says. “When people buy from us, they know it will be a quality product.”
Over the years the business has evolved, from first selling anthracite coal and the stoves to burn it in, to the current wide range of possibilities for customers seeking to heat their homes, or create a “cozy comfort zone” with a fireplace, as Miller says.
There are over 60 stoves and fireplaces on display, so customers can get an idea what they would like to see in their own home. The traditional wood-burning fireplace and stove is still highly popular. Other choices include gas, electric and pellet fuel systems. Whatever the choice may be, Miller says customers can expect high-efficiency units and great customer service.
The decision on what fireplace may be best for the customer has many facets. Wood-burning fireplaces provide a heat source if the power goes out. Electric and gas fireplaces require less cleaning and maintenance. Pellet-fueled fireplaces can be helpful in reducing the labor involved in cutting and storing wood.
To help in making those decisions, customers can look at the models on display, and talk with an expert to make sure their needs are met with the choice they make. The store features models of both traditional fireplaces and contemporary styles.
When a customer decides on the type of fireplace, Miller’s trained crew handles all the work needed to get the fireplace operational. This includes design of the mantle and the fireplace surround, the installation of any gas or electric lines needed, and masonry. As Miller says, it is a one-stop shop for fireplaces and stoves.
It is also important to know what the customer needs. The fireplaces that the business creates are individualized based on customer tastes and preferences. Miller can design a fireplace from a photograph that the customer provides, and can help make sure the design fits correctly in the available space.
“When the customer comes in, I want to know what they want the fireplace to do for them,” Miller says. “We try to sell them a solution.”
That same care is given to customers who may be struggling to decide whether a wood stove would be a better option for their space. They sell wood stoves that can be used for heating a home, and wood-burning cook stoves for kitchens. Wood-burning cook stoves do double duty as both a source of heat and a way to prepare meals.
A fireplace is a bigger project than the installation of a wood stove. It depends on the scale of the room and the individual needs of the customer.
“A fireplace changes the look of a room, but it does take up more space,” Miller says.
In addition to quality fixtures, the company has always made customer service and satisfaction a priority. Their installers operate with the highest level of professionalism. “We tell our employees to leave the customer’s house cleaner than when we got there,” Miller says.
For him, the job is done well when he gets a positive response from the customer.
“One of the best things I like to hear is how much they are saving on their energy bills,” Miller says.
Fireplaces and stoves can lower heating and electricity costs that come with keeping a home warm in winter. The key is to keep the fireplace or wood stove fueled while lowering the thermostat. That way the furnace does not kick on as often, reducing electricity usage.
Miller says the following phrase helps to know if his team has met the customer’s expectations: “If they cry because they are so happy.”
“They tell all their friends about it, send a handwritten note or write a nice review about their experience with us,” he adds.
These types of responses come about because Miller believes his business is not simply about making a sale. It is about connecting with those who come into his business.
“We just love interacting with people,” he says. “It’s about building relationships.”
To keep products and service on trend, Miller Stove & Fireplace has expanded to offer an extensive selection of outdoor gas, charcoal or pellet barbecue grills, as well as popular add-ons like griddles or pizza ovens. To make that cookout even better, the store has a selection of grilling utensils, sauces and seasonings. Whether it’s a stand-alone grill, outdoor kitchen, fireplace or fire pit, Miller is ready to help his customers enjoy their yards even more.
“Creating an outdoor living space is an extension of their home,” he says.
If an outdoor kitchen is what a customer wants, Miller can supply everything needed. This includes cabinets, grills and installation of the utility lines.
As the business continues to transition into the next chapter of leadership, Miller is thankful for the seven employees who have helped keep the “quality and comfort” portion of their motto a part of standard operating procedures. The past 34 years of happy customers would not have been possible without a great team, he says.
Customers come from an approximate two-hour radius from their shop on Beech Road. This includes Bremen, Nappanee, Wakarusa, Goshen, Warsaw, Elkhart, South Bend, Plymouth, Culver, Knox, Walkerton and Rochester.
Miller Stove & Fireplace is located at 2570 Beech Road in Bremen. For more information, visit millerstoveandfireplace.com or call 574-773-2686.