Skip Miller of Miller Lumber in Augusta, KY for ProSales Magazine
Christopher D. Thompson Skip Miller, Owner, Miller Lumber, Augusta, Ky.

Like a lot of dealers, Miller grew up with sawdust in his blood working in dad Jack’s lumberyard. Living in this small town of 1,600 souls on the Ohio River suits him to a T, as does his three-mile commute down an old country road to the store. “If I meet another car, I get upset.”

From Little Acorns… I started at 6 or 7 at the store. There was a big wooden block at the store, and the old timers got a kick out of seeing me try to drive a nail into that block. I got a black thumb many a time from that.

I’d been driving a big two-ton truck since I was 13, but when I went to take my driver’s license at 16, I failed the driving test. I just made a boo boo, and didn’t get far enough in the left turn lane quick enough. When I went back and told my dad, he threw his hat up in the air and said, ‘I have a delivery for you to make this afternoon.’ My mom had to drive with me.

I tried college for a year at Northern Kentucky University, but I thought I knew more than they did, and I came back here and went to work. I guess I’ve been working here now for more than 50 years.

Keeping an Even Keel Today we have five full-time employees and three part time. Five of us do the work of what eight or 10 used to do. During this last [recession] we did do less work, but in a small rural area, the graph and curve aren’t as big as they are for folks in other areas. It’s steady as she goes.

Diversity Helps We don’t just rely on floor joists and trusses. We are a little unique. We have industrial accounts like power plants and bridges. Wherever you pour concrete, you need lumber for the forms. When my father bought this business [in 1956] there was a dam going up across the Ohio 10 miles from us, and my dad was a supplier for that. It’s real funny that 60 years later there’s another big project down there, a hydroelectric plant that is a half billion dollar project, and we have done a million dollars with them over the past three years. It’s nice to know you had a hand in something that produces 100% green energy.

Second Day Job I oversee the operation of the ferry. Sometimes it can be fun and sometimes it can be no fun at all. You don’t have very many $100 repair bills with a boat. We run the boat from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The ferry is named after my daughter, Jenny Ann. I’ve been doing the ferry since around 1991. The fellow that owned it was going to sell it. It’s a vital link for our little town, to cross the river to Ohio, so about 10 business folks at the time bought it and kept it in operation.

Local Celebrity Nick and Nina Clooney [parents of actor George Clooney] are wonderful people. There couldn’t be any kinder folks. In fact, we just put a couple of doors in George’s river house down here. I wouldn’t trade living in a small town for anything.--As told to Kate Tyndall