Meet the Man Behind Miller's Vans
Jim Mayer may well be one of Miller Electric’s longest-standing employees. While he’s held many jobs during his 40+ years with Miller (Delivery Driver; Warehouse Manager; Tool Maintenance and Repair Technician; Fleet Maintenance Manager to name a few), painting Miller Electric’s service trucks is one of his favorites.
A classic car enthusiast, Mr. Mayer has labeled, marked and painted Miller Electric’s fleet since being hired by Harold Miller in 1968.
“In the 60s, labels and logos required soaking decals in water and coating them with a clear shellac when dry,” Mayer recalls. “I’d paint the unit number by hand with a brush. Today, we use vinyl lettering but I still paint on the red stripes by hand.” While Miller Electric’s ‘moving billboards’ are all designed alike these days, in years past, Mayer would design trucks specifically for electricians. “When we made the move to standardized truck design, some people – including customers, didn’t want to give up their custom designed vans,” says Miller Electric Safety Director Scott Love. “Customers could recognize their electrician from a mile away because of the design on the van.”
Mayer honed his skills painting custom graphics on vehicles not just at work but at home as well. “I used to paint cars for anybody who would pull up in my driveway,” he recalls. “Graphics were so popular back then.” Friends would come to Mayer, who could restore cars both inside and out. When Cliff, Harold and Norman Miller took over Miller Electric Co. from their father Henry in the mid-1960s, they didn’t initially need a fleet of vans, but as business grew, and the function of a service fleet became necessary, Jim Mayer was there to paint them.
“Cliff Miller asked me what I could do with the vans. He didn’t like the amount of time I spent on the first one,” Mayer recalls, chuckling. “He said just to use one color to make the process more efficient. In those days, you could buy a truck for $2,500. When the cost rose to $3,000, Cliff said he was done buying trucks. He was always committed to running an efficient and profitable business.”
Mayer has witnessed a lot of change at Miller Electric over the years, but respect, fairness and quality have remained constant throughout Miller’s growth and development. “Our values trace all the way back to our founders,” Mayer comments. “We’ve always been committed to the highest quality in every detail. That goes all the way back to Cliff Miller. Whether it was materials, tools or workmanship, he wouldn’t cut corners or sacrifice quality.”
Mr. Mayer has watched Miller Electric grow from 50 electricians to ten times that now. “The growth was truly amazing to watch,” he says. “When the Miller brothers sold the company to employees who could become stockholders, the growth just really took off because everyone was invested to drive growth and success all the more.”
Mayer considers himself lucky to have worked for Miller Electric all these years and to continue to work for Miller today. “I have a choice now,” he says. “There’s a time in life when you have to go to work. That’s not true for me now. To be here, doing what I’m doing, speaks to the tenor of the people here. Everybody is for the most part, a friend.”
Like so many others at Miller Electric, Jim Mayer has dedicated himself to quality in his craft; quality that you can see not just in the service Miller electricians provide on jobsites and calls, but in the vans that carry them there.