Bookwalter

American Builders Quarterly article

Founded in 1986, oakbridge timber Framing, Ltd. is a family-owned and operated subcontractor with a history of pride and quality construction. Headquartered in Howard, OH, this timber frame specialist designs, fabricates, and erects custom timber frames and panels for high-end homes.

"We enjoy this type of specialty work, building dream homes," says Johnny Miller, OakBridge’s owner

Miller and his friend, Levi Hochstetler, had worked together previously for another timber frame company that disbanded. They loved timber framing work so much that they launched their own company. The result is OakBridge, which has completed construction projects in 22 states and does business nationwide. Owned by Johnny and Aaron Miller, the company constructs 15 projects annually.

Ranging from great room additions to 9,000-squarefoot luxury vacation homes, OakBridge's projects come in a wide variety of sizes. But regardless of the size, Miller and his crew take a lot of pride in each project. Currently, this subcontractor is building a traditional frame for a 6,000-squarefoot house in Cincinnati and its next scheduled project is a frame for a 4,000-squarefoot home. "We are proud of every one because every [frame] is somebody's dream," says Miller

One notable recent project was a large luxury home in Ashland, OH with a barn-like frame. In addition to frames for custom homes, OakBridge creates pergolas and outdoor structures. For example, the company has created several bridges for bike paths over the years. "One of our bike-path bridges in Ohio has been the site of several weddings, and that gives me such great satisfaction" says Miller. "All of us go out on site to install the frames – even office personnel – because we believe that is the pride of the job when you go out and install," Miller adds. Half of the company's projects are full timber frame and the remainder are hybrid timber frame projects. OakBridge's staff uses traditional tools, including handheld chisels, mallets, and circular saws to create highly decorative joinery.

Instead of growing in size, Miller plans for his company to grow in terms of quality and customer service. "We want to be known as having the best customer service around, the best quality around," he says. Miller would like to tackle additional large residential projects in the coming years.

The company's wood shop employees are continually learning more about wood, experimenting, and coming up with new techniques to create tighter joinery. "My dad, who is 70, has worked with us for our whole history and he is learning new things yet," says Miller. "Each piece of wood is like a person in that it reacts uniquely. You have to learn its characteristics, its beauty."

Primarily, OakBridge uses northerngrown oak and Douglas fir for framing. The oak is all structurally graded before it arrives in the wood shop, and then it is aesthetically graded in house.

To stay abreast of the industry, Miller attends conferences and supports local timber framing organizations. He is a life member of the Timber Framers Guild, and OakBridge Timber Framing is a longtime member of the Timber Frame Business Council as well.

Typically, OakBridge is booked out with framing projects one year in advance. The company insists on installing its own frames because of the crew's pride in its work and to maintain the quality structure of the frames during installation. "It is hard, but sometimes we turn down work because we do not want to sacrifice our quality," says Miller.

As a subcontractor, OakBridge wants to be even more responsive to the needs of the general contractor. Miller is proud that many of the people for whom they build stay to become friends. "We want to be there for the whole process for them," he says. "We want to be just a phone call away.

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