While Jonathan Mills (right in photo) was studying architecture in Texas, he supported himself using carpentry skills he learned in a high-school apprentice program. He moved to California for graduate school, but instead worked for several contractors. He started his own company and worked in the field with his first two employees, who are still with him today.

The company grew when Jonathan’s mother, Carol Schluntz (center), and his brother-in-law Travis Johnson (left) joined the company. Schluntz handles sales, and Johnson is the CFO and vice president of project development. Mills is getting ready to hand production oversight to an employee so that Mills can also contribute to sales.

Architect referrals all but vanished during the recession, so the team decided to use the opportunity to begin offering design/build services. To promote these services, they are relying on one of their tried-and-true marketing practices: seminars. The company sends out targeted mailings for each of the 16 seminars it holds per year.


  • Average employee tenure is seven years, which Jonathan Mills attributes to good benefits, fair management, and a strong culture. 
  • Since 2004, Mills Builders has used deconstruction methods to disassemble buildings and recover materials for recycling and reuse. 
  • The company uses BuilderTrend software to communicate with clients. The program stores scanned documents, product selections, change orders, updated schedules, and sends e-mail task reminders to team members.

- Nina Patel