Joshua Miller is the founder of StormWerkz, a family business with nationwide success on the custom-made gun parts market. Josh has grown his gun accessories hobby into a full-fledged production company, using several vocational degrees and Development Association resources on the way. The DA’s Executive Director, calls Josh “a self-made man”. The symbiosis of Josh’s firearms innovations and DA consultations has brought StormWerkz to a new launching pad today.
The prehistory of Josh’s business starts at age 7: “I started taking an interest in guns from childhood. I grew up on the land. I started taking target practice when I was a kid. I grew up in South Ranch, just outside of Superior. I made my first gun – a black powder pistol – at age seven. A lot of things came together over firearms for me. My dad is a big hunter. I started doing more of my own firearms in school. Later on, I went to WTIC for their machine tools program. And from there I started my own business.”
Josh explains that the wave his business is riding has been gaining steam for years, but that a lack of production space has held StormWerkz back: “At first I was working full-time at a different job, and making custom gun parts was just a side project for me. Overall, I systematized the process of making gun parts. It was still just a hobby for me though. Then, in 2008, the economy took a dive, and I went back to WTIC to study welding. I started putting more time in at my workshop, and soon everything took off. Sales doubled for a few years in a row, but then I reached my maximum capacity. I couldn’t physically produce any more parts. I needed to expand production. So now, we’re picking up a couple more computer controlled mills, and building a new production facility in downtown Superior.”
StormWerkz’s success isn’t simply a factor of ever-growing interest in guns (although Josh adds, “Today there are more gun owners in the USA and the world than ever before. Canadians are nuts over guns too”). Rather, Miller credits the Development Association with jump-starting his business a year ago: “The DA helped me write a business plan by connecting me with Dawn Doller and Joye Badard, who gave me consultations and helped me to feel confident moving forward. The DA consultations have taught me more about business in general.” The DA concurs: “Josh has used every service the DA provides.”
As StormWerkz’s business continues to thrive, Josh takes pride in the fact that he’s doing something no else is doing: “The products we make are mostly for civilian uses. But some militaries are interested in our work too. Our main products are scope mounts, stock adapters, hinges, and handguards. We have 50 total products. We’re well-known on the market today. And together with the DA, we’re going to get me a new consultation on how to get a permit for exporting StormWerkz’s products.”
With more orders than he can fill, and a 40 x 50 ft. production building in the pipeline in Superior, Josh says the future looks bright. Continuing work with the DA is a big part of Josh’s optimism as well: “I expect to become a DA member. I’ll have a long future with the DA, because it’s been a great experience working with them. Trying to get a business started is just banging your head against the wall. I could never have done it without the DA.”
By Christopher Pascone