Utah Jazz: Greg Miller opens up about job, family, Jazz, Ty Corbin and even Jerry Sloan
Five years later, Miller continues his dad's philosophy of making sure the family's assets and companies "are used to enrich the lives of people they touch." From their movie theaters, to the track in Tooele, to Spring Mobile Ballpark and EnergySolutions Arena, the Millers are proud that their businesses "make communities better."
They vow to continue doing that with the "stewardship" they feel they have in terms of the community and its NBA team. That's why they agreed to purchase a massive state-of-the-art video scoreboard as part of $15 million in arena renovations. It's why they agreed, upon new GM Dennis Lindsey's recommendation, to spend more money on scouting. It's why they're planning on surrounding Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Co. with pieces that they hope will blossom into a championship contender.
"We as a family," Miller said, "are committed to making this franchise as best as it can be on all fronts."
Miller re-confirmed that his family wouldn't be tempted to sell the team for big bucks (like the $741 million on the table to move the Kings from Sacramento to Seattle). His family is willing to spend money on good players "if it can help us win." He's "as big of a fan as anybody," even if it doesn't show through his even-keeled demeanor.
"We're down in the bedrock. We know what we have to work with," the optimistic Miller said. "We have a solid foundation, and I'm very excited about our future."
This media meeting was much more than just Miller's take on the Jazz, though.
With remarkable detail, Miller explained how he met Heidi, his wife of 27 years, while "cruising State" in a red Toyota truck. He even rattled off the phone number she gave him — he still has the sticky note — from a root-beer-colored Mustang. It wasn't until the second time they met while going northbound on State Street that their relationship took off.
Miller told about his first job as a 13-year-old when his dad had him sweep rocks off the lot at the family's first car dealership in Murray.
He showed valuable notebooks — one of which he keeps in a fireproof safe — from the now-legendary "Family Council Meetings" his father began in 2000 to impart his life's wisdom and work strategies on his heirs.
The 47-year-old spoke of his occasionally frustrating relationship with his workaholic father, of leaving the family business to start his own company and then returning as the "Prodigal Son," of finally earning his dad's trust and being given more responsibility, including the task of running the Miller Motorsports Park when it first opened in 2006.
That chain of events led to Miller being named CEO of the LHM empire five years ago. He recalled that his dad — from his hospital bed — told him and other executives on a conference call, "You collectively are in charge of my life's work. Don't screw it up."
It appears they're doing the opposite.
Gail Miller, since remarried, continues her late husband's philanthropic efforts and was called "the benevolent one" by her son.
Since Greg Miller took over as CEO, the multibillion-dollar companies have steadily increased profits and revenue margins on an annual basis, including a best-ever year in 2012. The auto dealerships are projected to sell 93,000 cars this year. Prestige Financial has $600 million in receivables. LHM obtained a massive $320 million securitization on Wall Street. The Millers have split their organization up into six properties with infrastructure for future expansion if so desired.
Even while spearheading all that success on the business front, Miller, more of an administrator and delegator than an entrepreneur and hands-on micromanager like his dad, has managed to be a family man. He learned from his father's costliest mistake — spending too much time on work instead of taking better care of his health and having more family time.
"This organization in a very real way cost my dad his life," Miller admitted about Larry H. Miller, who died of diabetes-related complications at 64 years old. "I won't let that happen."
Sure, his work schedule is packed like any CEO's. But he takes his children on some business trips, and carves out chunks of time for hikes, Land Cruiser adventures and birthday parties, among other activities with his wife, six children and four grandkids. He's even moving to the city to better optimize the time he spends driving to the arena and the airport from his home in the southern part of Salt Lake Valley.
"There's nothing I love more," Miller said, "than being with my family — unless it's adventure travel with my family."
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