60 Years: The Supplier Perspective
November 13, 2023
Just as Miller Fabrication Solutions plays a vital role as a strategic partner in the long-term success of OEMs around the world, so, too, do trusted suppliers in ours. Many exceptional people and supplier companies over the past six decades have provided the tools, insights and products necessary for Miller to grow and meet customers’ changing needs. Without these partners, Miller wouldn’t be where we are today – celebrating our 60th anniversary, with no signs of slowing down.
When the business opened in 1963, manual processes were the norm, from parts production to paperwork. As our company expanded, technology also advanced. Embracing and leveraging it to improve quality, efficiency and customer service has been critical to our ability to evolve and thrive.
Global Shop Solutions partnered with Miller from 2001 to 2021, helping us implement technologies that exponentially increased productivity. Global Shop Solutions provides enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to small and medium-sized manufacturers. Their insights and consistent focus on helping Miller Fabrication Solutions achieve its technology goals – which was so effective that we ultimately outgrew their offerings – places them among the suppliers that have had the greatest impact on our success.
Mike Melzer is Vice President of Operations and Service at Global Shop Solutions. We asked him to reflect on our 20-year relationship and Miller’s 60th anniversary. Here’s what he said:
Q: What did Global Shop Solutions do for Miller?
We enabled Miller to collect live data from the shop floor for the first time. That helped the business run more efficiently and effectively. With the information our system provided, company leaders knew when to buy material, when to put it on a machine, what their costs were, where their raw materials were, if they needed new machines and whether their estimates were on target.
They were growing fast during the time we worked together, and we allowed company leaders to sleep better at night knowing they had data that confirmed the business was on track. We helped them ensure they hit target delivery dates for OEM parts, which helped them keep their customers happy and their business growing.
Q: What made your relationship with Miller so strong for 20 years?
Eric Miller and I are business partners who became instant friends at our first meeting. We have very similar backgrounds. We’re both close to our parents and grandparents. We’re proud of where we came from, and we both want to leave the world a better place. Our philosophies and company cultures align. We both appreciate a good golf game.
We also just work well together. When you partner with Miller Fabrication Solutions, it’s like being part of a team. They’re great people to work with. They’re communicative. They’re leaders when it comes to adopting cutting-edge technology. They lean on experts like us for guidance and to understand their options, and then they go for it.
They listen and learn, both when it comes to incorporating technology and in all aspects of their business. Global Shop Solutions does, too. That’s essentially our motto, and it’s how we all get better.
Q: Did the relationship with Miller Fabrication Solutions help Global Shop Solutions in any way?
Eric tells me Global Shop Solutions helped Miller get to where they are, and we feel exactly the same way about them. In some ways, our companies grew up together. We were both smaller operations at the beginning of our relationship, so we learned a lot from each other.
For example, our shop product is about a 95% solution right out of the box, but we worked with Miller to customize the last 5% to make it a better fit for them. So, while Miller has grown, so have we, and we owe a lot of that to Miller. They’re a great friend and business partner who helped guide us, just as we guided them.
Q: Why do you think Miller has been successful for 60 years?
I think it boils down to their core values and their culture. They’re smart people who are easy to work with. They’re all the type of people you’d really like to have as next-door neighbors, too. Just rock-solid people.
And they’re always striving to get better. It started with Eric’s grandfather and grandmother (company founders David R. and Gerry Miller), and you see that same driving force in every generation of family leadership since then. They know how to make high-quality parts, yes, and that’s obviously important and why they’re successful, but they also live their core values, treat people right and operate with integrity. They haven’t lost what’s important to them, despite the growth and success. That says a lot about the kind of people they are.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory from working with Miller?
I went up to visit Miller in 2007 or 2008, and I saw Eric’s grandfather, Dave, out on the floor welding something. He saw me and took off his welding hood to greet me, but he said he wasn’t going to shake my hand because he was too dirty. I said, “Man, I can go in the restroom and wash my hands, but I’m absolutely going to shake your hand. What you’ve done here is build a phenomenal company with phenomenal people.” It didn’t matter to me that he was dirty. I just wanted to let him know how much I respected him. I mean, to me, a handshake means something, and it meant a lot coming from Dave.
He was older at the time, so I also jokingly asked why he was still welding and not enjoying retirement in Florida or somewhere. He answered by saying he was right where he wanted to be and that “this is who I am.”
It just struck me to see someone who had created a company with a couple hundred employees at the time and was very successful down there welding, when he very easily could have given the job to somebody else. But he wanted to do it. You could see it in his eyes…in his smile…in his passion. It was pretty cool. That’s my favorite memory.