You What?

Cory Miller, President, Elevatus Architecture
Feb 3, 2023
Jeffrey Crane
You What?

Describe yourself in three words. Friendly, quiet, even-keeled.

What is your favorite part of your job? I have multiple favorites. First, the creativity and problem solving that architecture allows and demands is addictive. Second, the end of a project when the client gets to occupy and use the building, and sees all of their efforts, input and dreams come to reality. Lastly, in my current role I get to work with and mentor younger members of our team, see their creativity, passion and drive, and am constantly in awe of what they can do. 

What was your first job? I was a dishwasher/bus-boy at The Galley in Decatur. 

What is your greatest accomplishment? My family. I’m so proud of my wife and kids and what they do everyday, and how they treat others.  

What is your biggest pet peeve? Butchering of the language. Those that know me know the misspoken words and phrases that make me cringe. A close second is that there’s not a “coffee only” or express drive-through at coffee shops. I always get stuck behind someone ordering a crappa-frappa-chino, or something that takes too long to make. 

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to cast as you? It would be a boring movie, so it would have to be someone that would get my wife and daughters to watch it — Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Reynolds or Chris Hemsworth.  It better have some action too. My son loves his action movies, so any of the Marvel actors would work as well. 

Who would you like to see perform in concert? I regret that I have never seen Garth Brooks in concert, and have always wanted to see Elton John and Billy Joel. 

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? The eastern Mediterranean. The history and beauty of the places that birthed all things of the Western world – Greece, Italy, Turkey, Israel. 

If you could solve one major problem, what would it be? Child hunger is the first answer that comes to mind because it’s both global and local, which is a terrible thing. We can do better. 

What’s one thing you can’t live without? Coffee. Black, bold coffee.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? The answer is always “no” if you don’t ask.  

Name one person who has inspired you in your life. I can’t name just one. From a personal standpoint, I know my grandfather was an inspiration to many. He was a pastor who impacted countless people with the positive message of God, and his personal connection and service to others. I didn’t realize his impact and reach until he was gone. From a professional standpoint, I have worked for and with some great people in this architectural world who have made positive impacts in their communities, built businesses, did it in the right way, and continue to pay it forward: Mark Hutker, George Morrison, Ron Dick and Mike Gouloff. 

What is one important skill you think everyone should have? The ability to listen. 

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you win a medal in? My kids can attest. When the Maps app gives me an anticipated arrival time, I’ll move heaven and earth to beat that time.  

Who was your first celebrity crush? Alyssa Milano. “Who’s the Boss?” was a new show during my middle school years. ‘Nuff said.  

If you could send a message to the entire world, what would you say in 30 seconds? It’s not about you! Social media has created a twisted version of culture where people are so self-absorbed. Look around, folks. There are people that need help, that could use encouragement and, to that end, there are people serving others and making a difference. The world needs more people who are paying it forward. 

When was the last time you cried and why? “It’s a Wonderful Life” gets me every time, and of course we watch it every Christmas.  

Do you have a nickname? Dad and Miller. 

In what city did you grow up? Decatur, Indiana.

What book has had the greatest impact on you? Early in college I read “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. The characters in the novel were so perfected in their approach to life, and that was interesting. The protagonist however, Howard Roark, had an approach to what a building is or can be, and that was impactful. More recently, I have been reading and re-reading a few self-growth books including “Win the Day” by Mark Batterson and multiple books by Patrick Lencioni. 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A fireman, truck driver, professional athlete, pilot… but around middle or high school I became interested in buildings and architecture.

What famous person would you most like to meet? My answer to this varies based on the season, as I have great admiration for those that have written their own story and path inside or parallel to the industry they are/were excelling in. Just to name a couple, Kevin Costner and Jack Nicklaus. 

What do you actually do at your job? It depends on the day. Some days I get to design and be a part of design discussions, but other days I’m working on the administrative/business side of architecture; contracts, coordination and office management. There are other days where I’m focusing on business development – getting to tell the story of Elevatus, what we do, and how our team can help a potential client. Some of the best days, though, are walking construction sites and seeing a building come out of the ground. 

What do you love most about Fort Wayne? It has a small town feel with big city amenities. I love the fact that we have great family attractions like the children's zoo and Science Central. We have a great parks system, theaters and arts, but what’s really exciting is the growth and rejuvenation of downtown, starting with Parkview Field and the newest “addition” — Electric Works.

Who is your hero? I can only hope that my children can look at me one day the way that I have always looked at my father.  He somehow balanced a demanding career with always being there for the family, and always payed it forward in the community. He set (and still sets) a very high standard of what a dad is and can be. I hope I can live up to it. 

What is your dream job? I don’t know that I could work at golf and still have fun with it, but I’d like to try! On the attainable side, I think I would enjoy being a pilot. 

Do you have a motto you live by? Treat people right. 

What would you choose as your last meal? A medium-rare filet, french fries and Brussel sprouts with a dry red wine. I might have to throw a little lobster in there as well. I’d have to finish with some of my wife’s sugar cookies for dessert.  

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party (living, dead, famous, real or fictional)? I love to sit and listen to stories, so the best storytellers of myth, men and philosophy come to mind. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and throw in Ayn Rand for a great debate!  

What three items would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island (other than food and water)? If I were guaranteed to return to normal life, I’d prefer to have my sand wedge, a golf ball and a ball retriever because that's where my game needs the most work. If I'm not coming home, give me a good book to read, some paper and a pencil for sketching. 

If you had a time machine, where and to what time period would you travel? I have always been intrigued with The Roaring Twenties, so that’s at the top of my list, but not too far behind is ancient Rome.

What does your workout regimen consist of? When I get around to it… At 4:45 a.m. I have coffee, then do 30-45 minutes of cardio/strength conditioning. It doesn’t happen as often as it should. 

What profession would you never try? While I have great admiration and appreciation for law enforcement, I don't know that I could ever be an effective law enforcement officer. 

Where will you go on your next vacation? It's already scheduled! I’m going on a cruise with my whole family.  
 
If you could give your 15 year-old self advice, what would it be? Don’t be afraid of “no.” Always ask questions and be open to all possibilities. 
 
What’s your biggest fear? I assume every parent has this fear — my kids being hurt or worse. It may sound silly, but every time they get into the car and drive off somewhere, I start to worry. 

What is the best gift you have ever been given? Life, obviously. But during this life, trust. There have been numerous times in my life where someone has no reason to trust me (or not to), but they did. They have allowed me to earn trust. From employers and co-workers to clients. Trust is the greatest gift. From a material standpoint, Santa brought me golf clubs when I was 10 or 11 years old. I started playing with my dad and still playing when I can with my wife and kids. It’s the best game ever. 
If you hosted a talk show, who would be your first guest? Can I resurrect Ronald Reagan? 
 
What skill would you like to master? Debate. I would love to get better at debating a topic, clearly articulating my point or position, and have a discussion ensue. We are living in a world of shouting over the top. 
 
What fad do you wish would come back or stay gone forever? Flip-flops and shorts in the winter is silly. 
 
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten? Octopus. The things you’ll do on a dare! 

What is the most productive time of day for you? Early morning before anyone is awake or in the office. I am able to focus on what’s important (or urgent, depending on the day) without interruption. 

If you received enough money to never need to work again, what would you spend your time doing? Traveling purely out of curiosity and desire. I can see the travels ending where there’s good weather, good spirits and something where my family and I could use our skills or talents to give back. 

When was the last time you tried something new? It’s a been a while. I enjoy snow skiing and tried snow boarding with my son one time. One time was more than enough. I was more bruised and beaten in one day than in all the years of sports I’ve played during my lifetime. 

If you had to teach someone one thing, what would you teach? How to grill a good steak. 

What gets you excited and driven to achieve? Seeing dreams come to reality. From our kid’s hopes to the clients I get to work with; any time I can contribute to something that fulfills a dream, I get excited. Professionally, seeing a project completed and a client’s vision come to reality gets me moving every time.

What is your earliest memory? I have some very cloudy memories from when I was four or five — playing in the house, visiting Niagara Falls. Most of my early childhood memories are of extended family vacations to the the lake or visits to my grandparent’s place in Oakwood Park. 

What trait or habit in yourself do you deplore? Procrastination and/or perfectionism. They contribute to my last-minute crunches. 

What is something that never fails to make you laugh? I am still a middle school boy in my appreciation for silly jokes. 

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