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Greg Miller

SANDY — Larry H. Miller has promoted his oldest son to be chief executive officer of his car dealerships, movie theaters, sports venues and the Utah Jazz.

Greg Miller, 42, will run the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies with the assistance of a newly created board of governors. Larry Miller will be the board's chairman. Other board members include family matriarch Gail Miller and Greg Miller's brothers Roger Miller, Steve Miller and Bryan Miller.

Greg Miller made the announcement at a news conference late Wednesday afternoon at the Larry H. Miller Group offices in Miller-owned Jordan Commons, flanked by company spokesmen and some of his brothers. Absent was 64-year-old Larry Miller, who has been in the hospital for more than a month for complications with Type 2 diabetes.

"It's been an emotional day," Greg Miller said. "But I've been working in this organization since I was 12."

Larry Miller, in a news release, said he had full confidence in his son: "Greg has done an excellent job of learning all aspects of the company, and Gail and I feel that he is ready for this opportunity to play a stronger role in the future of the organization."

The Larry H. Miller Group is private and has operations in Utah, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Colorado and New Mexico. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment on yearly revenue. In 2001, the Utah Jazz team was estimated to be worth $211 million. The company also owns the Salt Lake Bees, Miller Motorsports Park and The Fan Sports Network, which includes KJZZ Channel 14, KFAN 1320 AM and ESPN Radio 1230.

The Millers own Megaplex theaters in The Gateway mall in Salt Lake City, as well as in Lehi, Ogden, Sandy and South Jordan. They also own the Mayan Adventure restaurant, EnergySolutions Arena, an advertising company, a financial-services company, a catering company, Fanzz Sports Apparel and the Utah Jazz Store.

The family has remained tight-lipped about Larry Miller's health. On Wednesday, Greg Miller revealed that his father is in a recuperating unit at a local hospital and is working with a physical therapist, "regaining his energy."

"His health continues to improve, and this decision is one he drove," Greg Miller said.

Greg Miller said his father will continue to provide guidance to the Larry H. Miller Group. Larry Miller's personal assistant remains on staff, and his office remains intact.

"He will have that as long as he's alive, as far as I'm concerned," Greg Miller said.

Larry Miller is known for his energy, as well as his hands-on management style and distaste for bureaucracy. He built most of his companies from scratch. Greg Miller plans to continue that legacy. "My job will be to perpetuate it and to refine it," he said.

His father's hospitalization was in some ways a "blessing," Greg Miller said, because his father was forced to rest in a hospital bed and think about what shape he would like his life to take. Greg Miller expects his father's energies to shift away from his business endeavors and move toward philanthropy.

Larry Miller, in the news release Wednesday, said he planned to do just that. "I will continue to maintain a hands-on role in the company, but my position as chairman of the board will allow me to spend more time outside of the office with my wife Gail and our family, as well as devoting more time to our philanthropic endeavors."

The change in the company's leadership should be barely noticeable, Greg Miller said, as the management at the smaller individual companies will continue doing their jobs the same as in the past.

While Larry Miller may not be as involved in most of the Larry H. Miller Group's day-to-day operations, it's unclear how much he'll remain involved in the daily operations of the Utah Jazz. Greg Miller expects to see his dad at the season-opening game, following his team as usual. For now, Larry Miller also will keep his seat on the NBA's Board of Governors.

"I can't speculate on what he may want to do," Greg Miller said. "If he wants to continue the way he's done, nobody's going to stop him."

Day-to-day operations within the NBA's Miller-owned Utah Jazz franchise are not expected to be affected to any great degree, if at all. The team's management structure, including president Randy Rigby and general manager Kevin O'Connor, will remain intact. Greg Miller also said that as long as he has any say in the matter, the Jazz "absolutely" will remain under the ownership of the Miller family, and that there are no plans to sell the club.

For the past two years, Greg Miller has established operations for the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele. He began working for his father's company at age 12, sweeping car lots. He said his new position as CEO didn't come as a surprise.

"We've been talking as a family about succession issues," he said.

E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com; tbuckley@desnews.com