Miller Technology consolidates operations
The relative fortunes of the papermaking and mining industries in Northern Ontario were evident in North Bay last year as underground utility vehicle manufacturer Miller Technology moved into a 43,000-square foot building vacated by paper industry supplier Stowe Woodward. Miller Technology’s new home replaces two former locations in the city – a main office and shop and a separate parts, rebuild and sales division, together totaling 26,000 square feet. These two locations were quickly snapped up by two other North Bay mining suppliers requiring more space: Woods Welding, a welding and fabrication shop specializing in drilling components for Atlas Copco, and Foraco Canada, a diamond drilling contractor.Miller Technology’s new home consolidates the company’s operations in one location and increases manufacturing capacity for its popular Toyota Land Cruiser, Miller Truck and Triple 4-ce utility vehicles. Another location in Sudbury, open since 2007, serves as a parts distribution centre.Prior to the move, “we were turning down business because we didn’t have the space to work in anymore,” said president Ron Miller.
The company spent four million dollars on upgrades and new equipment, including additional office space, paint and sanding booths, and a state-of-the-art ventilation system for the welding department. One of only two Land Cruiser dealers in Canada, Miller Technology modifies the vehicles for the tough underground environment and customizes them to suit individual customer requirements.“We go so far as rewiring them and adding wet disk brakes,” said Miller. “We can also modify the engines and transmission, but most of the work we do is on the back end of the vehicle.”Miller Technology adds scissor lifts, manlifts, crew cabs and performs a wide range of other customizations.
Most of the company’s sales are in Canada, but Miller-modified Land Cruisers are also in service in the U.S., Russia, Africa and South America. Customers in Canada include Rio Tinto’s Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories, Goldcorp, BHP Billiton and De Beers.
The company’s product line also includes the Miller Truck, a rugged personnel carrier, and the Triple 4ce, a versatile, multi-function carrier with a variety of attachments for front and rear, including pallet forks, buckets, man baskets, tire handlers and shotcrete booms.
“Mining accounts for two-thirds of our business,” said Miller. The other third is surface equipment, including the Miller Lifer, a tracked vehicle designed to lift transformers and other heavy equipment for electrical utilities. The company also sells and services JCB construction equipment, Komatsu forklifts and CMI mulchers.
Miller started the business in 1980 in the garage of his North Bay home following a 12-year stint as chief designer for former mining equipment manufacturer Jarvis Clark. Originally from southern Ontario, Miller earned a mechanical technologist diploma from Mohawk College in Hamilton and headed north for a job with Jarvis Clark at the age of 25.
In 2002, he handed over the reins to his two sons, Chad and Kent.
“I’m still president, but I don’t deserve it really. It’s just a title. Chad looks after the people side of the business, while Kent is more of a technical guy. I keep my eyes open and still get involved, but the boys have done well on their own.”
Miller came out of retirement to manage the upgrades to the new location and oversee the move to the company’s new home, allowing his sons to focus on the day-to-day business without distractions.
The move was completed in May 2011.
Tagged Canada, Canadian mining, Greater Sudbury, Miller, Miller Technology, Mining, North Bay, Northern Ontario, Northern Ontario Business, Ontario, paper industry supplier, Sudbury, Sudbury Basin, Toyota, vehicle customization