Chad Guthmiller isn’t your typical artist. Instead of creating pieces with paint and a brush or even clay and a wheel, Guthmiller uses concrete to bring to life anything from custom countertops and fireplaces to jewelry and even drink koozies.
It all began six years ago when Guthmiller started experimenting with concrete out of his father-in- law’s garage in the small town of Scotland. He quickly discovered his passion for the medium, outgrowing the space soon after. Now Guthmiller and his wife, Amber, headquarter out of their own building in Volga—giving their business, Artisan Concrete Concepts, a true home and retail presence in the state and the ability to expand across the country.
“The biggest obstacle to our business right now is people not knowing about us and what we can do.”
“I just really enjoyed this life of making things and being a maker,” said Guthmiller. “I asked myself, ‘What do I want to do with the rest of my life?’ and ‘What do I love to do?’ and this is what came of that self-reflection.”
Besides kitchen countertops, Guthmiller also specializes in bigger concrete pieces like fireplace surrounds (the stone design around a fireplace), vertical sculptures, and fire pits. Since the couple’s move to Volga in 2018, Amber has expanded Artisan Concrete’s product line by crafting smaller pieces out of concrete like succulent planters, necklaces, and signs. Approximately five to 10 new products are added annually to Artisan Concrete’s product line as the couple learns new techniques and comes up with different designs.
Business Card Holder
Couples Hand Sculpture
Twisted Bar Necklace
“Concrete is one-of-a-kind, that’s the beauty of it,” said Guthmiller. “When people think of concrete, they don’t think of how we make it. It’s not a trend; we can make it look like wood, like glass—it’s a chameleon material.”
Guthmiller says bringing his wife onboard was huge for Artisan Concrete after they transitioned to a physical storefront. To maintain a store in town, the duo had to expand their product line from high-dollar, large projects like kitchens and fireplaces to more boutique-style, ‘I-just-stopped-by-to-pick-up-a-birthday-present’ kinds of products. Artisan Concrete now has “something for everyday people,” said Guthmiller, including those wanting to spend under $20 for a last- minute gift.
“We make products that are conversation starters. They tell stories of the past. That’s one of my favorite aspects of this business.”
“In a small town there are many different avenues for success,” said Guthmiller. “You can do the high-dollar products like we did exclusively, but we also wanted to reach those wanting more of a boutique feel in that retail space in Volga. That’s what I love about this craft—we’re unlimited in what we can create.”
But the thing Guthmiller says he loves to create most isn’t a specific kind of product, but instead a concept: relationships.
“I’m a relationship builder with concrete,” said Guthmiller. “I really want to build things that bring people together, that help them forget about their stresses in life.”
That’s why projects like fire pits, drink koozies, and even concrete cornhole boards, are so special to Guthmiller and his team—they’re more than simply a job well done. Instead these types of products represent the intangible goal Artisan Concrete is trying to accomplish every time they say yes to another project: relationship building.
That goal to build relationships extends not only to what Guthmiller creates, but also to the individuals he creates these works of art for. Some of his favorite projects include a custom renovation of a friend’s dream log cabin—from a 3-D painting made of concrete depicting the area surrounding the cabin to a waterfall installation in the yard that he’s still working on—and a tabletop that illustrates the history of a family’s past.
These projects and more like them are what keep Guthmiller coming back to concrete day in and day out, dreaming up new ways to transform a material as old as the earth for each customer that chooses Artisan Concrete.
“We’re just makers trying to make it in the world today,” said Guthmiller. “The core of our business is being able to put our customers personalities into the work we do.”