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Miller Transporters still family owned and still growing

Jackson — With its 12th consecutive award this year as “Readers’ Choice” by LOGISTICS magazine, Miller Transporters demonstrates its strength in the carrier industry. The company, founded in 1942 by Harold Dewey Miller Sr., won the award based on ratings in the areas of on-time performance, value, information technology, customer service and equipment and operations. Only carriers that excel in all five areas achieve this designation.

“We’re excited because people who actually know us and use us on a daily basis vote on this award,” said Hal Miller III, vice president of sales and marketing. “It can’t get any better than that.”

The trade publication has been polling readers in its Quest for Quality edition for 21 years and touts it as the most comprehensive customer-perception study of transportation companies available.

Miller Transporters has evolved since the senior Miller, who worked for Shell Oil, got into the trucking business to haul petroleum because he couldn’t get the product during World War II. According to his grandson, the elder Miller bought an old truck and started hauling the product but was soon asked to haul for others in the business as well. With the federal government prohibiting the transportation of petroleum by rail, the demand for carrying by truck increased. Miller Transporters began a program of steady growth by providing safe, dependable professional service with just that one truck.

Over 60 years later and with more than 600 tractors and 1,100 trailers, the company is still family owned and operated, including the fourth generation. Scott Miller, one of the founder’s sons, serves as president. Lee Miller is vice president of quality and corporate support. Grandson Woody McDuffie is president of Miller Intermodal Logistics Services. Two great grandsons, Trey Weir and Brent Cobb, also work in the company and family members serve on the board of directors.

Miller Transporters is authorized as common and contract carriers by the U.S. Department of Transportation and by Canadian and individual state regulatory agencies.
Being a common carrier means they can haul for anyone who can give them loads. Contract means they have specific customers with definite terms and rates in place.

Originally, the company was regional in surrounding states but that has changed in the last 25 years as the product focus has changed. Hal Miller says Miller Transporters has evolved from hauling asphalt, cement and gas products and now is primarily a transporter of high-end chemical products along the Coast, up the eastern seaboard and in the Midwest.

He says the headquarters will always remain in Jackson but the only terminal presently located in Mississippi is in Hattiesburg. The other terminals are in Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“We’ve had a steady but sure growth pattern,” Miller said. “The economy is picking up but the trucking industry cannot keep up with demand, mainly because of the shortage of drivers.”

He feels that’s the biggest challenge facing the industry and could cause stunted growth. “It’s a difficult job that requires a lot of a person,” he added. “Drivers don’t get home as much as they would like and can’t anticipate their schedules like workers in other industries, but they can make fantastic pay.”

Diesel prices are also having a big impact on the bottom line of trucking companies. Miller says that’s the reason many independent contractors are shutting down and others who may want to enter the industry are having second thoughts.

“Most carriers have fuel surcharges. They do not keep up with fuel costs penny for penny but it does share some of the burden,” he said.

Changing with the times, the Miller family developed another company, Miller Intermodal Logistics Services Inc., offering domestic and international service.

“It’s a third-party logistics service for companies that need help on a contractual basis with shipping,” Hal Miller said. “We go and analyze their shipping management. Maybe we take their entire logistics program or possibly just propose minor changes in their existing process.”

He says Miller Logistics can look at a company’s needs with an unbiased approach, making suggestions as to the best time to ship, get competitive pricing based on carriers’ preferred lanes and other factors that affect pricing. One of the top 50 tank container operators in the world, they offer domestic and international service.

The two Miller companies have over 700 employees and long-term independent operators.

“From the corporate headquarters to the terminals, Miller Transporters is staffed with highly trained and loyal employees,” he said. “Employee involvement is our greatest strength, and we are proud of our low employee turnover rate.”

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at mbj@msbusiness.com.


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