PERSONAL JOURNEY: Family based company brings faith to work

In a business world focused on diversity and inclusion, it may seem challenging for one company to base its guiding values around one religion.

Isaiah Industries in Piqua is doing just that. Founded in 1980 as “Classic Products, Inc.” by Donald Miller, the company has long manufactured metal roofing systems.

Today, Miller’s son Todd Miller of Sidney, owns the company, along with his best friend Kelly Joseph. The pair met in college, each on a very different career path.

Miller grew up in a quiet, Christian home with a father who was diligently working along with the rest of the country, rebuilding after World War II.

“My father was part of what sociologists call ‘The Silent Generation,’” Miller said. “Not much is said about them, but these folks shaped our nation and world to be what we are today.”

Besides having a dad who Miller said could “fix anything,” he was inspired by his father’s entrepreneurial spirit and his many sayings.

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“Dad used to say, ‘There’s no such thing as holding your own in life or business.’” Miller said. “If you think you’re holding your own, you’re really declining because you can bet that others are going around you.”

“I graduated from high school in 1982 and went to Bluffton College,” Miller said. “I had intentions of going into medicine or law.”

At Bluffton, Miller met Joseph, who was majoring in business. The two became fast friends, spending time together in the library dreaming of their futures.

Credit: Ryan Bell

Credit: Ryan Bell

“We talked like a lot of young guys do about having a business together,” Miller said. “Kelly envisioned us having a hot dog cart on a beach somewhere!”

By the time Miller earned his degree in communications, his father’s company was going through a challenging time. He decided to return home, bought an interest in the company and got married all within the same week.

Joseph, on the other hand, graduated from Bluffton College in 1987 and snagged a job at a manufacturing company in Piqua. But within a year, Miller approached his friend about coming to work with them to help manage finances.

Credit: Ryan Bell

Credit: Ryan Bell

“In 2011, Kelly and I bought out my dad’s interest in the company and renamed it Isaiah Industries,” Miller said. “We chose that name to reflect our Christian faith and values.”

Bringing the faith they share to the forefront of the business is not only important, but also what they both believe is vital to the long-term success of the company.

“By renaming the company and being more ‘out there’ with our faith, we had a goal of letting our team members know that we are about relationships with our customers and each other,” Miller said.

The company’s focus had long been on commercial metal roofing – for restaurants and businesses, but the pair shifted it to high end residential metal roofing, which has been becoming more popular because of its durability.

“I’d say my faith became more real to me in my mid 30′s when I had my son,” Miller said. “I realized I had someone else to care for and it didn’t make sense for me to silo my life into family, church and business any longer.”

Joseph agreed that though his upbringing was similar, he always sensed a separation between church and family. It wasn’t until college that he learned from professors that religion and life should work as one.

And so far, it seems to be working, with 55 employees all recognizing that their leadership puts relationships and people first.

“Our average tenure is about 17 years,” said Joseph. “The very first employee of the company is still here with us.”

But Miller said that biblical practices guide them and are the reason for their continued success as a company.

“There are two pieces of scripture that talk about always doing the right thing and being fair to all,” Miller said. “We just encourage that.”

Joseph admits it’s not always easy and that even they aren’t always perfect, but they try to live in life and in business, as their faith has taught, representing Christ in all things. Employees are also encouraged to become involved in community including volunteering with youth sports teams and at local food pantries.

Don Miller passed away in 2014. Today his son and Joseph are both in their late 50′s and are beginning to look to the future of the company.

“We are working on product development but also thinking about what the future may look like,” Miller said. “We’ve started a podcast that is focused on helping people starting careers in the construction industry. But it’s important to us to keep the culture the same, no matter what.”

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