SALT LAKE CITY — Greg Miller has been involved in his father’s businesses for 37 years, since the very day Larry Miller bought his first company that blossomed into the multi-million-dollar Larry H. Miller Group that includes numerous car dealerships and other ventures, including the Utah Jazz.
Miller, who is now 49, took over the business with his mother, Gail, when Larry died in 2009 from complications related to diabetes and has been the CEO of the LHM Group ever since.
Miller, however, has decided he wants to take a step back and pursue other personal interests and not continue his CEO job as the LHM company does some restructuring that apparently won’t affect the future of the Utah Jazz basketball franchise.
Miller did not make himself available for comments Monday, but gave reasons for the move in a statement released by the LHM Group earlier in the day.
“This is the right move for me personally, for my family and for the business,’’ Greg Miller is quoted as saying. “It has been a privilege to fill the role of CEO and to be a steward of this outstanding organization that my parents sacrificed so much to create and develop. The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies is now entering a new phase and requires a new structure.’’
Jazz president Randy Rigby said in a statement Monday afternoon that it would be business as usual as far as the Utah Jazz are concerned.
“I can reassure fans that the Jazz are conducting business as usual and that the changes are designed to keep the LHM Group, including the Utah Jazz, intact as a community asset for future generations,’’ Rigby said. “We are grateful to Greg for his many contributions in supporting the Jazz, and look forward to him continuing to serve as our governor on the NBA Board and as an active member of several NBA executive committees. As owners, the Miller family still runs the Jazz and remains engaged and committed to building a championship-caliber team.”
Besides Greg’s departure, Steve Miller has also chosen to step down from his role as president of Miller Sports Properties to assist in other areas of the family’s interests, according to the press release. Bryan Miller will retain his position as president of Miller Inspiration.
Linda Luchetti, the executive vice president of communications for the Miller Group, reiterated what Rigby said concerning the future of the Jazz. The changes won’t affect day-to-day operations of the team and Greg as well as the rest of the Miller family will still be involved in the overall direction of the franchise, she said.
“Greg didn’t make those decisions anyway, it was more of a family thing,’’ Luchetti said. “The day-to-day decisions will still be made by Randy (Rigby), the team president, and Dennis (Lindsey) the general manager. When it comes to the overall direction of the franchise and the longevity, the Millers will still be very involved.’’
Luchetti also said it’s common for a company of this size to be structured this way and that the Miller Group can remain privately owned while “the Jazz can stay intact for generations.’’
She also said this was a family decision that has been in the works ever since Larry Miller passed away six years ago. Luchetti said Greg Miller’s CEO duties would be absorbed by the Miller Management Corporate Companies.
Gail Miller, owner of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, called it a significant day in the history of this company.’’
“The changes announced in the organizational structure of the group are a natural evolution of a large and growing enterprise,’’ she said. “Larry’s dream was for our businesses to survive the two of us well into the future. This change will provide the structure for that to happen.
"Greg was successful in taking over for Larry while facing one of the toughest economic times in our country’s history. He has done an outstanding job leading this organization and his many accomplishments will have a profound, lasting effect on our family businesses and our communities for generations to come.’’
Greg Miller had been present when his father bought his first automotive company back in April 1979. As chronicled in a Deseret News story by Doug Robinson, Greg was with his father when he took a car dealer from Murray to lunch and jokingly asked, “When are you going to sell me your dealership?” When the reply was “today” Miller sat down and fashioned a deal. That was the start of his automobile empire.
By the mid-1980s, Miller had bought a share of the Jazz and eventually took full control. As early as 1994, Larry Miller told his son that he assumed he would take over as CEO some day.
Greg had starting working for his father’s companies as a teenager, sweeping car lots, attaching license-plate frames to cars and pulling parts and delivering them. Eventually he started his own graphics company before re-joining his father's business in the late 1990s. He became a general manager of a store and worked on the car dealership side for most of the time before becoming CEO seven years ago.
As much he respected his father, Greg acknowledged in that 2008 story that he didn’t want to be like his father in regards to his family life. Larry Miller had been an absentee father for many years, which Greg resented.
“The difference is I spend time with my kids,’’ he said. “I am their father figure. I made a great effort to see to that. It’s the benefit of hindsight. I can recognize that void in my life. I don’t want to perpetuate those mistakes.’’
Perhaps that is a part of the reason Greg Miller has made the decision to step back from his CEO duties.