Making It: Light It Up in Akron with Whiskertin

BUSINESS: Whiskertin Lighting
MAKERS: Aaron Novak & Glenn Miller

FORGING A FRIENDSHIP: Longtime friends Aaron Novak and Glenn Miller met through the Akron nightlife and music scene. Both have lived in the city for about 20 years.
“Back when we first met each other, it was more of a social friendship,” Novak explained. “Now we’re spending so much time together, not so much casually, but working.”

AN ILLUMINATING IDEA: Novak, who works in the HVAC industry, found himself inspired by the industrial look of materials used in heating and cooling systems.
“I always thought the exposed ductwork we ran through all these spaces looked really cool,” Novak said. So he brought a piece of scrap ductwork home one day to see if he could make a light fixture out of it.
Miller was immediately on board. “Aaron called me up one day and was like, ‘Hey, I want to turn this scrap piece of ductwork into a light’,” Milled said. “I was like, ‘Cool, I’ll be over’.”

BRIGHT BEGINNINGS: Posting a picture of the first ductwork light on social media garnered a great response.
“We were like, ‘I think we’ve got something here’,” Miller said. “We took it from there, started doing lights out of pipe, and really branched out the product line.”
Whiskertin officially got its start in 2016, and the duo landed their first big project after pitching their light fixtures to Great Lakes Brewing Company.
“We went up there with all these different styles of ductwork lights that we made,” Novak explained. But Great Lakes owner Pat Conway had a different idea – asking Whiskertin to create light fixtures out of used beer kegs.
They left feeling disappointed, having hoped to use their signature designs, but after the keg lights were completed and hung in the brewery, Novak and Miller realized the possibility for materials was endless.
“It really opened things up for us, because it made us realize that we can now make lights out of everything,” said Novak.
FORWARD TO THE FUTURE: After four years in business, Whiskertin is thriving. Most evenings and weekends, Miller and Novak are building custom orders, or preparing their products to travel to different shows and events, which brings in a bulk of their business.
Though it may seem like it, Whiskertin is not a full-time gig for either Miller or Novak.
“We’re both still working our full-time jobs,” Novak said. “We’re burning the candle at both ends doing this, but we see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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