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Making it in Big Sky: Millworks ‘58

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Alex Hassman and his wife Suzy own and operate Millworks ’58. PHOTO COURTESY OF ALEX HASSMAN

By Mira Brody CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGIST

BIG SKY – Alex Hassman, owner and founder of Millworks ’58 moved to Big Sky in 1997. After patrolling for a bit, he realized he wanted a more permanent career path, and opened the remodeling company with a friend and his wife Suzy, naming it after their blue 1958 Chevy Apache pick-up truck. Although the partnership with his friend dissolved and the beloved truck has since been sold, their business remains strong 18 years later amid Big Sky’s growth.

Explore Big Sky sat down with Hassman to talk about Millworks ’58 and learn how he has adapted the business over the years, why he loves working for himself and some very apt advice he learned early on about skiing Lone Mountain.

This series is part of a paid partnership with the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. The following answers have been edited for brevity.

Explore Big Sky: I’d like to start with a little background information on you, when did you come to Big Sky? 

Alex Hassman: I grew up in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. I went to college in Missoula at the University of Montana where I received a degree in English Literature and a minor in Spanish. I moved to Big Sky in 1997 and worked for Big Sky Resort as a ski patroller from 1997 to 2003 and patrolled at Moonlight Basin in 2004.

EBS: Tell me about the history of Millworks ‘58 when did it start? How/when did you become involved?  

A.H.: In the summer of 2004 I was working for Moonlight, running a saw crew and operating an excavator to glade ski runs. My son, Kjetil, was born early that summer and I realized I wanted a more permanent year-round and sustainable occupation. A few months later I started a remodeling business with a friend of mine, he with the skills, and my wife and I with the business experience, contacts and relationships. Millworks ‘58 was up and running that fall. It was named after our blue 1958 4×4 Chevy Apache pick-up truck. Within six months the partnership was disbanded and the pick up truck was sold to guy in Hawaii. Millworks ‘58 survived and is still in business 18 years later.

“I value being my own boss. I also value working with my family and with my team of subs.  I think we do a good job in bringing our client’s projects to fruition. We’re accountable, communicative and directly involved with everything from start to finish. I also enjoy working with and getting to know many of my clients.”

Alex Hassman, Millworks ’58, owner and founder

EBS: What services do you offer and how has the business grown over the years?  

A.H.: We started with a remodel platform, but modified and adapted when the recession hit in 2008. During that time, I found myself competing with the house and commercial building companies bidding on bathroom remodels. So I changed gears and got into building maintenance, handy man services, window washing and even chimney cleaning. I continued to work on remodels and custom carpentry work but the side services really saved us during that time.

When the economy improved I was in a better position to decide what aspects of building I liked to do and what I was good at. At times it’s still a little blurry, but I would that say what I do best is bathroom and kitchen remodels, a variety of home improvements and custom carpentry. My son has stepped in with our window cleaning operation, investing in better equipment and improving the process. In terms of how the business has grown over the years, I would describe it as adapting, adjusting and maturing the business.  

EBS: How big is your team?

A.H.: It’s ironic, as the economy in Big Sky continues to boom I’ve gone in the other direction and worked towards getting smaller. The Millworks team consists of myself, my wife Suzy and my son Kjetil. We also work with a team of independent subcontractors—electricians, plumbers, tile setters, drywallers, painters, etc. My group of subs specialize in one field and do it extremely well, plus they’re great to work with.  

EBS: What is the best part of working at Millworks ‘58?

A.H.: I value being my own boss. I also value working with my family and with my team of subs.  I think we do a good job in bringing our client’s projects to fruition. We’re accountable, communicative and directly involved with everything from start to finish. I also enjoy working with and getting to know many of my clients.

EBS: When you’re not at work, what do you like to do around Big Sky?

A.H.: I created a lifestyle first and then an occupation that supports that, not the other way around. Having time to enjoy the outdoors and my family is the core of what I do. My recreational interests shift with the seasons, my moods, job site locations, pick up and drop off times for my kids. Generally I ride my bikes and float rivers in the summer and either Nordic, alpine or backcountry ski in the winter. In the shoulder seasons I like to trail run.

EBS: What is the best  advice you have ever received?

A.H.: If it’s still untracked in Big Sky after noon, don’t ski it.

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