Behind the business: An interview with Newcastle entrepreneur and founder of Miller UK Ltd
In 1978, a 21-year-old founded his own mobile welding and repair service in Newcastle. That man was Keith Miller, who would go on to become the CEO of Miller UK Ltd.
Here, he chats to Bdaily on his career successes from his base in Cramlington and his thoughts on the year ahead.
Hello, Keith. Can you tell us how you started your career at Miller UK?
“I began in mobile welding and doing onsite repair work, and whilst I was repairing products - in particularly the buckets - I could actually see some of the flaws and faults from the original designs.
“I always thought that if I was building a new bucket myself, I wouldn’t build it like that and I would do it differently. So then I thought why don’t we do that… why don’t we start building buckets?
“We went from repairs and improving repaired buckets, making them better, stronger, to offering bespoke bucket manufacturing service to the UK dealers.”
How has Miller UK been growing since its foundation years?
“Initially used for quarries, mines and opencast coal sites, [my] repair service soon started to grow into manufacturing the products [I] was initially repairing and later - joined by [my] younger brother Gary and when, old enough, sister Jacqui - decided to take a risk to become pioneers in the earth moving industry.
“Today, 41 years on, Miller is now a global market leader in quick coupler and Bucket technology and continues to be recognised all over the world for safety, reliability, quality and innovation.
“The present day Miller operates on a global basis supplying innovative, high quality attachment solutions to the world’s leading earthmoving OEMs and their dealer networks.”
What is it about your organisation that motivates and excites you the most?
“I’m incredibly proud of how well the Miller brand is recognised by the OEMs globally and on construction sites around the world. From the start we always had a grand vision of building a world class leading brand.
“With incredible drive and tenacity from my sister Jacqui, along with support great from Gary and some fantastic Miller people we have been able to develop market leading products and a brand that I believe is the industry standard for quality, safety and performance.”
Looking back on 2019, what has been your biggest achievement?
“Our focus in 2019 has been on making sure that we are closer to our customers and that meant enhancing our global footprint and continuing to invest in R&D.
“Innovation is at the core of this company and their dedicated team are constantly looking to push technology boundaries to ensure that their products are at the forefront of safety standards, earth moving efficiency, durability and value.”
What can Miller UK ltd offer to your region?
“We are incredibly proud to still have our headquarters in the North East where it all began over 40 years ago…
“By creating a high performance, fit-for-purpose organisation with a clear and single focus, we intend to accelerate our growth momentum and enhance profitability.
“Naturally as we continue our growth into the future, we will seek to offer more jobs, apprenticeships and training opportunities to skilled people in our region.”
What have been your biggest challenges during your time at Miller UK Ltd so far, and how have you overcome them?
“In response to the onset of global recession from mid-2008, [I] instigated a successful 90-day turn around business plan, saving Miller during the recession and returning the business to year-on-year profit growth.”
Name your top three goals for 2020 and any plans for the next decade at Miller UK Ltd.
“Our 2020 strategy for Miller UK ltd will see us put plans in place to accelerate growth across all global markets, whilst creating a fit-for-purpose organization with clearer customer focus, continued cost discipline, a performance culture and simplified ways of working.
“The clear focus for Miller UK ltd is to become the Industry benchmark for customers and to grow faster than relevant markets. This will ensure we further strengthen the market positions we have in all our geographic regions.
“We are building our five year strategy on a strong financial foundation for growth and value creation where our engineering strength and global reach of Miller provides unmatched flexibility.
“Going forward, we will continue to develop our world class portfolio of products - with a focus on being the industry benchmark for safety and innovative solutions which will help bring us closer to our customers.
“Remaining open to exploring relevant opportunities, including bolt-on acquisitions, also continues to be part of our strategy.”
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