It all started in a butcher shop in Mio, Michigan. My Grandfather’s meat market birthed my understanding and appreciation of what a small, family-run business can bring to a community. I didn’t understand it as a child, but now I realize the impact that growing up in a family business had on me. Observing my family (starting with my Great Grandfather) interact and serve the community around them shaped my business philosophy.
My construction career started when I went to work with my father, during the summer of my 12th year. I learned how to work with my hands alongside my father on a brick and block masonry crew. I knew very quickly that this would be my life’s work.
For a sense of adventure, I visited Colorado for 3 and a half years and learned the art of custom log work by one of the masters of the trade. It was here that I met Lillie Miller—first seeing her at a general store and later formally introduced by mutual friends. Interacting with and spending time with Lillie was easy and natural—like it was just meant to be.
I also grew up immersed in a family business. My parents started Miller’s Bread Basket when I was 12 years old. People traveled for miles for the southern cooking, homemade breads and fresh pies found within the walls of this family restaurant—I can still smell the warmth of my parent’s
business today. My first job was washing dishes. We didn’t have a commercial dishwasher—so I remember standing on an upside down 5-gallon bucket to be able to reach the bottom of the sinks!
I loved being there and seeing my parents work hard for their community—my Dad & Mom earned a lot of respect from many because of their love for people and their contribution to the local economy in our small town. My Dad taught me a lot about customer service and I attribute him for my love and devotion in serving and interacting with clients both then and now.
I helped manage Miller’s Bread Basket right out of high school and up until I moved to Colorado. It was then that I met Kevin—a young craftsman exploring the mountains of Colorado. I remember being captivated by Kevin’s intricate way of communicating and his love for adventure & purpose in life. I quickly trusted him and we developed a special deep friendship that I knew neither of us had organized on our own. A few short years later, we were married.
We Must Go
In August 2001, the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina beckoned Lillie and I to make this our home. You’ve heard the phrase “the mountains are calling and I must go” by John Muir—that was just how we felt about Blowing Rock. We knew this was where we wanted to live, work, and raise our family. So, we packed up the U-Haul and made the move from Colorado to the beautiful mountains we call home.
When Kevin and I first started our company in 2001, we wanted our name to be unique and special. At the time, Kevin was fascinated by the debate in the scientific community about the “4th dimension.” Some argued the 4th dimension was gravity, some said it was time, some said magnetics and others craft & art. With a heart for community, we decided to take a different approach—what if we interpreted the 4th dimension as relationships? What if we were responsible for and entrusted to be good stewards of relationships, and how that is practically applied in a business environment?
What if everything we had learned this far—starting with our family businesses—could be a way to deepen community not because of obligation but out of a sense of purpose?
Relationships matter to us. You’ll see this woven through our business philosophies such as our mission, vision and core values—and also through the actions we take in our day-to-day. Whether it’s a relationship with a client, with subcontractors, among our team or with others who cross our path, we desire to facilitate positive, life-enriching experiences for all we come in contact with.
At 4 Forty Four, we commit to daily seek and find joy in the simple and ordinary things, to value relational capital over financial gain, and to be what we hope for—in our community, in our nation, and on our planet.