History of Michiana Millworks
When he was hired at Grumman at age 20, Jeff Kuhl had no idea that doing so would put his feet on a path that would ultimately lead to founding Michiana Millworks, a Sturgis company specializing in truck interiors.
“I started at Grumman sweeping floors and drilling holes, but within 10 years, I worked my way up to the engineering department,” Kuhl said. “Later, after taking some engineering classes, I went to work for Forest River in Elkhart (Ind). There, we had a customer come in who wanted to buy a truck and have a specialty interior installed, but our shop was not set up for it, so I told my boss I could do it at home.”
The customer, was happy so they ordered a more trucks that year, and Kuhl did all of them at home in the driveway.
“It got to the point where my family asked me to choose one job so in 2012, with hesitation, I decided to walk away from Forest River and open my own shop, Michiana Millworks, here in Sturgis.”
Now running his own design shop with help from his family and former co-worker Rusty Gordon, Kuhl had time to put even more thought into his designs.
“I was thinking about all the hardware that fold-up shelves need, and the hassle they are to install and use, when gravity suddenly came to mind. ‘Why not use gravity?’ I thought. It’s not something you think about using as a tool, but it’s free,” he said. “I fooled around with the idea and came up with a concept for a shelf system that folds up and out of the way – nearly flush with the wall – without the need for any additional hardware to hold it in place, saving an average of $180 per truck.”
Kuhl’s revolutionary shelving design made his Michiana Millworks orders surge.
“We’re doing two trucks a day for FedEx, outfitting them with my shelf concept, and we have a number of dealers buying the shelves. There are a number of truck body manufacturers in this area, so being in the truck specialty business makes Sturgis the perfect place to be.”
Today, Michiana Millworks can boast that its work is not only local, but national and international, and includes custom truck work on anything from municipal and service utility trucks to private industry projects, such as Floyd’s Mobile Barber Shop, based in California, and EcoRoamer.
“We were particularly thrilled to be involved in the EcoRoamer, Kuhl said. The owner wanted a design that would possess the look of a rugged truck while housing all the comforts of a well-equipped home that could traverse the planet without damaging it.”
The EcoRoamer project, which cost $300,000 to complete, consists of parts from Ford F-650, that is powered by a Caterpillar C7 diesel engine that runs on biodiesel fuel. It uses solar energy to supplement the need of auxiliary power and it’s outfitted with a water-purifying system.
“We were thrilled to be involved with the EcoRoamer’s creation because it is exciting to be able to offer concepts and innovations that can make our customer’s dreams come true,” Kuhl said.
To see the EcoRoamer in action, visit:
To learn more about Michiana Millworks, contact Jeff Kuhl at (269) 651-1994 or at 1221 N. Clay St., Sturgis.
Image and article courtesy of Sturgis Journal