Hardware Retailing

MAY 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | May 2017 140 Hardware Retailing (HR): Can you give us a little background on your company and how you got involved in the business? Was this your first career choice? Jonathan Miller (JM): Just as most anyone who grows up within a family business, I worked at the store throughout my middle and high school breaks. As the youngest of four children, I was always chasing the footsteps of my brothers and sister growing up. As I finally reached the ripe age of 18, I knew very little of what was to come, but I could tell you that the hardware store and Valdosta was not going to be part of it. Leaving town as fast as I could, I set out for Auburn University, where I pursued a bachelor's degree in finance. I cherish every second I spent in Alabama. The friends I made and network I built is totally invaluable. From Auburn, I moved on to Atlanta, where I pursued my MBA at Mercer University. As graduation neared, I began looking heavily toward a job involving the financial markets. In an ideal world, I wanted to put in my time as an internal fund wholesaler, working my way to an external position. The lifestyle seemed attractive, the pay substantial, plus it would more than likely keep me within a large city—close to friends and other people similar in age. At a distinct point in time, between personal quiet time and close friends' testimonies, I decided to list my true priorities and the best ways to enhance those relationships and reach those goals. The commitment to work for Miller Hardware Company was one of many God-invoked decisions that have impacted my life. It's part of a path that led me to the most incredible person in the world, my wife, while giving me an opportunity to interact with my family on a daily basis. My father couldn't have been more encouraging or less pressuring. We do not always agree, but the process of working toward a compromised solution always works in the benefit of the business. I'm blessed beyond belief and owe it all to my family. HR: You operate three very diverse and different businesses. How did these three businesses come about, and what are some of the challenges in serving such a diverse customer base? JM: Miller Hardware Company was founded in 1908 and is made up of three distinct divisions: Whitehead Industrial Hardware, which serves the industrial market, primarily MRO and the construction trade; Miller Hardware, which is the founding, downtown core hardware location; and Seasons Garden Center, which is our retail hardware and garden center location. I believe each division sprung out of an opportunity to diversify. Each business spawned during a separate generation of ownership. The difficulty lies in tailoring a major decision that supports the best interest of each division. For example, we serve the industrial channel, Miller Hardware Valdosta, Georgia (Three locations) Jonathan Miller

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