Remembering Stan Miller, a friend who always cared
April 22, 2009
Stan Miller’s effect on Summit County extended beyond excavation projects to the people he met and the way they describe Stan Miller, Inc.
Friends, family and colleagues say the man’s respect and compassion set the standard for local businesses.
“All his competitors ” which were more friends than competitors ” they looked to him to be successful in this business,” Chris Bassett said. “You had to emulate what he did. If you didn’t, you would fall short because he set the bar.”
Bassett, the local sales rep for Wagner Equipment and Caterpillar, recalls his first deal with Stan Miller ” a bulldozer trade that most folks would shrug off as a lucky break.
Shortly after the deal was final, two components failed on the bulldozer Miller traded to Bassett.
Miller somehow found out about the failure and contacted Bassett.
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“He insisted that I lower the price of his trade to cover that repair,” Bassett said. “He never told me where he heard it.”
For the next 20 years, the two conducted business based on each other’s word.
“You just needed to do business with a handshake. We didn’t require signed documents of one another,” Bassett said.
Stan Miller’s integrity continues to influence the everyday workings of his company.
“Kurt and Kermit, they sat at the knee of their father for many years and did business the way he wanted to,” Bassett said.
Kermit and Kurt now run Stan Miller, Inc., a Breckenridge business ” specializing in excavation, hauling and pipelines ” that has expanded from four employees in 1972 to about 140 today.
“He started off with nothing,” Kermit Miller said of his father.
He said the business really “kicked off” in about 1976, when Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center was built. The project involved hauling out mud and replacing it with dredge tailings from along the Blue River.
Kurt Miller said one building at Beaver Run sits on rock that’s about 20 feet deep.
“Beaver Run was huge,” he said.
The company rebuilt Boreas Pass Road from bottom to top, worked on several subdivisions and the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center ” which was particularly difficult because of its proximity to the river.
The nature of Stan Miller’s business went well with a favorite hobby ” collecting artifacts such as arrowheads and glass bottles.
His daughter, Karla Miller, said he was a good leader who “got things done.”
“He touched a lot of people,” she said.
Kermit said Stan Miller was a “professor of common sense” who was also good at welding, woodworking and fixing equipment.
Ken Florey, of Simla, worked about 28 years for Stan Miller, Inc. He said Stan Miller was a generous man who “enjoyed helping people whether they appreciated it or not.”
“He had a lot of charisma,” Florey said. “He could have been a politician, could have been anything … (He was) one of those guys who just bring out the best in people.”
He said his office was across from Miller’s in about 1980, when Miller started dating his wife, Kathie.
“His phone would ring and I could tell it was her before he ever said a word,” Florey said. “He would just light up; you could just tell.”
Stan Miller was known for making friends in situations where most people would just make acquaintances.
“In 15 minutes you felt like you knew him, felt very close to him like you had a very good friend,” Bassett said. “He didn’t have idle chatter. He was very interested in what you had to say.”
Rich and Jody Poveromo, of Park County, were friends of Stan and Kathie Miller. Jody Poveromo said Stan Miller was kind, generous and fun.
He enjoyed hunting and fishing.
“One time he was hunting bear and a bear turned on him,” Jody Poveromo said. “And as he pulled his gun up, all he could see in his scope was brown hair.”
She said that when he would tell the story, Stan would pause before motioning to a bear rug that would hang on the wall and say, “and that’s him right there.”
Rich Poveromo said Stan was “as good as they come.”
“We fished some together, but not enough,” he said. “We shot some pheasant together, but I wish we’d gone a lot more, and we drank a lot of vodka together, maybe too much, but I was blessed and honored to be Stan Miller’s friend.”
Stan Miller’s brother, Grant, who lives in Breckenridge, said Stan was his best friend.
The two picked up golfing after Stan Miller, Inc. worked on the Keystone Ranch. They made a tradition of taking trips to St. George, Utah, with friends in late January.
The brothers would play Gin, a card game, during the drive.
“Stan and I always had a cooler we’d play on in the back seat,” he said.
The last trip was in 2006, but when they returned home the game wasn’t finished.
“We thought, well, we’ll just pick it up next year,” Grant Miller said, eyes misting.
But that was the last time they’d play.
Grant said it was tough losing Stan, as the other of the three brothers recently passed away.
“His word was his bond, and he always stuck by it,” Grant said of Stan. “And if he said he was going to do something, he’d do it.”