Miller Transfer's 'people' are key to success
By D.Ann Shiffler05 December 2017
President Mitch Unger said the company’s people are the key to success and longevity. It’s people are the ‘core’ or the company.
Miller Transfer began in 1968 after the purchase of operating rights and property from Miller Transfer & Storage, a trucking company based in Clarion, PA. The company operated with two trucks, primarily moving household goods around the region.
After the purchase, the name was changed to Miller Transfer & Rigging.
“It was at this time, the newly formed company began directing its efforts to the transport of steel products and industrial machinery,” said Mitch Unger, president.
The company was later relocated to Edinburg, OH. At that time, Miller Transfer began to develop its business strategy of transporting heavy machinery including expanding its terminal network throughout the continental United States. During the 1980s the company grew significantly, adding terminals, trucks and trailers. By the mid-1980s Miller Transfer had begun adding higher capacity multi-axle trailers to its fleet. In 1988 Miller Transfer won the prestigious SC&RA Hauling Job of the Year for a project that involved hauling three pumps weighing 80 tons each from New York to Utah.
In 1996 the company was purchased by long-time employee James Unger, who had worked for the company since 1971. Under Unger’s leadership, Miller Transfer experienced phenomenal growth, building one of the country’s largest specialized fleets in terms of capacity. More than 15 years ago Jim’s son Mitch Unger started working for the company.
“I started as a terminal manager and over the years have worked in a variety of operating roles,” he said. He was named president in 2016.
Today, Miller Transfer is a legal and specialized flatbed carrier whose focus is transporting machinery and over-dimensional freight as well as project freight including multi-modal transportation. The company manages 18 terminals nationwide and services the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Miller Transfer is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018. What are the key reasons for the company’s longevity?
Our people are the key to the company’s success and longevity. The core of our company is our people. Ultimately, we invest in people and they in turn take care of the company.
What is it about this business that keeps you intrigued?
We work in an exciting industry. It is always changing. There are always new and interesting problems that need solved. I think that is what attracts some of the brightest minds to this industry.
What are the biggest challenges facing companies that provide specialized transportation?
I think the biggest challenge facing folks in this industry is the driver shortage. There is a real need for qualified and experienced drivers in the specialized transportation market. It is an issue we are laser focused on in our company. Quality, professional drivers have been and will continue to be a key to success for any organization that provides specialized transportation.
What distinguishes Miller Transfer in the marketplace?
It’s a combination of three things:
- our Safety First approach
- our people
- our breadth and depth of specialized equipment
The combination of these three things helps set Miller Transfer apart in our industry.
How does Miller Transfer approach employee recruitment and retention? What does it take to lure and keep good employees?
I think a company’s culture is at the heart of employee recruitment and retention. We focus a lot of our time on our people and their development. In terms of keeping great people, I believe you need two things, vision and growth. We communicate with our folks regularly about our vision for the company and how we plan to reach our growth plan.
Has the new Electronic Data Logging mandate been an issue for your company?
Our company has been using Electronic Logging Devices for some time. This year we have required all of our trucks in our fleet to utilize an ELD. We are in the process of completing all of the installations.
Due to the fact that we primarily haul oversize shipments that require permits and regulate our time travel, I think our company has not been as affected by the mandate as perhaps other companies serving different markets within the trucking industry.
What is your business philosophy?
At our company, we have five core values: safety, integrity, entrepreneurial mindset, relationship builders and hustle.
When folks start at our company, I talk to them about our core values and what they mean in our organization.
I tell them if you make a decision in our organization that is supported by all five of our core values, odds are it is going to be a good decision. We hire, fire and reward on our five core values. It has been very powerful.
What do you do when you are not working?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends