Mint City Millwork Provides Customers With Unique, Handcrafted Clocks
Photographer / Jubilee Edgell
Attention to detail, combined with good customer service, is a tale as old as time for Wayne Helmuth, owner of Mint City Millwork in Bremen. The shop has been open since 1992 but has undergone many makeovers. Originally a customized furniture store, it switched over to kitchenware years later. Helmuth knew that his path was building clocks after he constructed his first grandfather clock in 2001. Today, the Amish business sells handmade grandfather clocks, mantel clocks, wall clocks and weather stations.
Helmuth has always had an interest in building clocks, though. When he was beginning to date his wife, the first gift he ever gave her was a clock he made on his own.
“I had bought it as a kid and assembled it and gave it to her,” he says. “It was something I always had an interest in, but I had never really tried it until after we were trying to do furniture and kitchens. In 2001, I did my first grandfather clock, and once we started in grandfather clocks, I kind of knew that was where we wanted to stay at.”
Today, the focus has shifted from handcrafting beautiful grandfather clocks to creating wall clocks that are, quite literally, works of art. The unique clocks were originally thought of in 2013 when Helmuth was working with an auction company. They were looking for a clock that would play an auctioneers’ chant at the top of every hour. As he built that, Helmuth thought about other kinds of things that people could have played in their clocks. He soon realized that Gospel music could play, and Mint City Millwork started selling clocks playing Gospel music in 2015.
“When we were doing [the auctioneer] clocks, I figured that we could do Gospel music,” Helmuth says. “I checked around, and the auction company didn’t want anything to do with it, so with that in mind, we started doing clocks with Gospel music in 2015. From there, it’s just picked up over the years.”
The wall clocks are hugely popular. They help to bring in a focus on local businesses, too. Helmuth intentionally looks to support the community by getting recordings for the clocks from local music artists and groups. The clocks feature artwork on the front, looking to inspire the customer. The artwork can be selected from the vast compilation provided by Mint City Millwork or customers can have their own image placed on the clock. It can be a high-resolution photo, a painting, a charcoal rendering or a sketch.
Handcrafting all of the clocks in the shop is one of Helmuth’s favorite parts. He loves getting to talk with customers, and he loves getting to use his hands to create works of art.
“I like doing the handwork, but I also like the interaction with customers in the showroom,” he says. “[Making the clocks is] probably the part that I enjoy the most. I like doing work with my hands. We’re always doing new designs, and it allows us to free up some of our creative ideas and put them into use.”
The customized clocks are not the only unique thing about the business, though. The name Mint City Millwork is striking. Helmuth explains that Mint City is a nickname for Bremen. In the past, Bremen was a hotspot for growing mint. Helmuth lives now on his family farm, where his grandfather grew mint years ago.
“Bremen, at one time, the town was known for mint,” Helmuth says. “Peppermint, spearmint, that kind of stuff. My grandfather used to raise mint on the farm. Now we’re the third generation on the farm, and we don’t have anything to do with mint anymore, but it’s very interesting.”
If you are interested in Mint City Millwork and their beautiful, handcrafted clocks or weather stations, feel free to get in touch with them. Their showroom is located at 3121 Birch Road in Bremen. You can give them a call at 574-209-1351 or visit them online at mintcitymillwork.com.