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Tuesday, 29 July 2014 00:00

Four Generations Make Miller Auto Body the Oldest Shop in Utah

There are a handful of fourth-generation body shops in this country, but we haven’t found a fifth-generation one yet. That may change if and when Chase Miller (age 14) decides to enter the collision repair world and take the helm at Miller Auto Body in Logan, UT, the oldest body shop in Utah.

Chase’s father Jeff Miller, 48, is the Owner/President of Miller Auto Body and proudly represents generation #4. He learned the business from his father, by sweeping floors initially and driving cars around the shop. “I was 13 or 14 and my junior high was located directly behind the shop, so that’s where I would go after school,” Miller said. “I learned literally from the ground up and if Chase wants to do it the same way, the opportunity is definitely here.”

Miller Auto Body opened its doors way back in 1896, when Jeff’s great-great grandfather C.W. Miller started painting buggies and carriages at age 12. Change was in the air, as new technology was looming. Ford Motor Co. released its first vehicle that year and called the Ford Quadricycle; the X-Ray machine hit the market during that same time and the N.Y. Telephone Co. became a reality in 1896. Nine years later, C.W. built his very own shop and expanded his services to include mechanical repairs. That business gradually evolved into auto paint and collision repair when cars took the place of the carriage and buggy.

In 1948, Charles W. Miller Jr., took over the business and played a pivotal role in continuing his family’s legacy, after learning the business while working there for two decades. It was an exciting time in the collision industry, because cars were changing and repair processes were evolving as new equipment and better products became available.


Miller Auto Body Shop ran into some unforeseen problems in 1950, when the shop burned down due to some faulty wiring. Not to be discouraged, Charles W. Jr. rebuilt the shop and ran the business until he was killed in a traffic accident in 1966.

After his father’s death, C.W.’s son Robert took over running the shop and building the business. When he turned 63, he began phasing himself out of the day-to-day operations and began the process of handing it off to his sons, Jeff and Mike. Today, Jeff Miller is the President of the shop and Mike Miller is its lead technician.

In 1993, Jeff’s father sat him down and had the “big discussion.” “I was at the crossroads about whether I should stay or go,” he said. “I graduated from Utah State University, got married and then took a job as an estimator with State Farm for a while on a part-time basis. I was still undecided. So, my father laid it out to me and told me the pros and cons of this business. I could see that it was a good opportunity, so I said yes. I was thrown into the fire almost immediately, because my mother got sick and my dad had to step away to take care of her. I had to wear several hats back then, including technician, quality control, estimator—I did it all at the beginning.”

Jeff’s father set up a plan in which his son could buy the 20,000 square foot shop with 15 employees and make the transition as seamless as possible. “Dad’s terms were more than fair,” Jeff Miller said. “He still comes in here every day and we have an office for him. He’s 74, but he still wants to be involved and we love it. He likes a place to come and enjoys being around the shop. He’s still active in Rotary and has a tight group of old friends that he gets together with.”

Jeff is proud of the fact that Miller Auto Body is the oldest shop in Utah and covets the family atmosphere. “We’re fortunate, because we have fourth generation customers now bringing their cars here. They tell me I look a lot like my great grandfather. We have employees that have been here forever, which is really nice. One gentleman, Arlan Hovey, has been a body tech here for 52 years. He’s 70 now and he works here part-time. We’ve got people who’ve been here for 20-30 years and it’s a great group. They’ve become more than employees over the years and are like members of our extended family now.”

Several years ago, Miller and nine other shops in Cache Valley got together to form a collective. “We’re kind of landlocked here and so we decided that if we worked together, we could make it better for all of us,” he said. “Most of the other shops in our group are also second and third-generations shops. We’re competitors, but respect each other and are willing to learn from each other.”

As a charter board member of the Utah Auto Body Association (UABA), Miller has witnessed the collision industry evolve firsthand over the decades and sees the value in organizations like the UABA. “Every member has a say and we’re always looking to bring in new blood. Our goal is to educate ourselves to be better businesspeople and that’s why we host I-CAR classes and get speakers like Michael Anderson here. If we don’t represent our own interests, who will?”

What does the future hold for Miller Auto Body and will there be a sixth generation sweeping the floors around the shop one day, maybe 20 years from now? “Who knows? We have a great name here in Logan, because we were taught to be honest and fair with everyone. Our motto is ‘Fast, Friendly and Reliable’ and if we can continue along that line, why can’t we do this as long as we want? Either way, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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