When it comes to managing employees at Miller Industries – the Fenton-based holding company behind Performance Fabricating, FlexAir and MiReps – Matt Miller looks no further than his four children for inspiration.
“If I don’t want to miss my kids’ activities, I know my employees don’t want to miss theirs,” says Matt, who co-owns the group of manufacturing businesses with his brothers Chad and Mike, sister Jennifer, and father Tom.
It’s a value that Matt feels has made all the difference in running a successful company; a lesson he learned from his father who started TMI Climate Solutions 35 years ago in Grand Blanc.
“The key to my father’s success, which we have continued, is treating workers like family,” Matt says. “It doesn’t matter if you work in the shop or the office, your family comes first. If things are good at home, they’ll be good at work.”
How have you created a family friendly culture?
We offer flexible work hours, and people can work from home if need be. We offer full medical benefits, a 401 (k) program, and financial education resources. We try to create an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable about where they work now and the career they will build over years of hard work.
Why is a “family-first” philosophy so important?
Chad and I pride ourselves on creating an atmosphere where people want to get up and go to work. After all, we spend more time here than anywhere. It’s truly the heart of our business. It’s all about getting the right people on the bus – and once you do, treating them right.
You studied business and hospitality services at Central Michigan University. How did you get into manufacturing?
My family has been in manufacturing for 35 years. I worked for my dad when I was in high school and in the summers during college. My brothers, sister and I worked somewhere else after college yet found our way back to manufacturing. Manufacturing is in our DNA – it’s what gets us up every morning.
What’s one lesson you’ve learned the hard way?
Why is Genesee County a good place to do business?
Genesee County has a strong, available workforce with an incredible work ethic. Even today, it’s difficult for companies to find good people. Yet our workers are very qualified at what they do, with many of them coming from skilled trade jobs at one of the Big Three. Not only are they highly skilled, but they are dedicated, loyal employees. We have very low turnover.
Tell us about your new headquarters in the works.
When we relocated Performance Fabricating to Fenton in 2014, we leased a building. We’re now constructing our own facility, where we can see what works and what doesn’t in terms of factory flow, and build products to meet client needs. We’ll have a 100,000 square-foot fabricating/manufacturing facility so we can also take on larger projects.
What advice would you offer to entrepreneurs hoping to open a business in the region?
First and foremost, get with the Chamber and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) before you start the process. One of the first things we did before building our new headquarters was contact the Flint & Genesee Chamber. We told them about our plans and received overwhelming support. They helped us with tax abatements, township approvals, employment, anything we needed. It’s really, really important to make these resources a big piece of your team.
Who inspires you?
My family, and being able to build a business that hopefully will do what my parents did and hand it down to the next generation. That gets me up in the morning early, and gets me home late at night. I want to do what my parents have done for all of us kids.