Community helps Lead business owner rebuild after February fire destroys business

LEAD, S.D. — A Lead business owner watched his livelihood burn to the ground back in February – but he isn’t looking to quit doing what he loves.

“I thought I was going to wake up the next morning and it was going to be over but it obviously wasn’t,” said Justin Millard, owner of JDM Customs.

On the night of February 3, Millard, a Lead-based mechanic and business owner, was home when he received a knock on his door from his neighbor, warning him of smoke coming from his shop. They rushed down immediately.

“I opened some doors and I realized that it was definitely on fire,” Millard said.

Leadfirefolo While firefighters and first responders came, Justin watched his business burn, ultimately leading to the evacuation of a home next to the building and uncertainty for his neighbors.

“The fire was intense and I was scared for their property also,” Millard said.

But as he watched the flames, Justin says he knew he wasn’t done yet.

Millard said, “It’s my livelihood. It doesn’t matter what happens down there, I’m going to rebuild and continue doing what I do. I guess I’m too stubborn to quit.”

Justin received around $11,000 from benefits thanks to the Lead Volunteer Fire Department and Sturgis Strikers, something he says is getting him through his situation. He hopes his new building will be up by September.

“All these fundraisers, it shows me how much support that I have and it kind of of gives me closure on the old shop but it does help having all the support from family, friends and people that I don’t even know show up to these benefits and donate money that they obviously worked hard for,” Millard said.

But, he’s not new to building from the ground up.

“I started with nothing before. I can start with minimal, minimal and work up again,” Millard added.

Categories: ConnectCenter1-Business, Local News