Hard work, God, family and country. These were a few of the values Bob Miller drew upon throughout his life, including in 1961 when he began The Robert E. Miller Group insurance brokerage. Sixty years later, the agency is one of the largest family-owned, independent brokers in the Midwest and still relies on the same values as a guiding light.
The agency has seen its fair set of changes through the years. In 1961, The Miller Group focused on commercial insurance and bonds for contractors. Over time, employee benefits and personal insurance were added. The agency’s niches have become serving construction, manufacturing and nonprofit industries.
A Turning Point
Yet looking back at the company’s history, 1992 was a key turning point for the company. Bob was diagnosed with cancer and told he only had a short time to live. Faced with this reality, Bob decided he needed to focus on more important matters.
“He said, ‘I don’t think God is going to care how much insurance I sold,’ so he started studying for what he called his ‘final exam’,” Bob’s son Matt Miller recalls.
Confident his sons Matt and Sean Miller were prepared to lead the agency, Bob turned the company over to them.
Sean and Matt say they never had intentions of taking over the agency. Yet they quickly realized it was up to them to continue the family legacy. Plus, the opportunity meant they could mold The Miller Group into the kind of company they wanted. They leaned on the values of God, family and country (which ultimately became community) as a moral compass.
The Miller Group became more about the company as a whole and its team of people delivering consistent results and superior service.
Since 1992, the agency has grown 700% and continues to meet milestones while always relying on its core values.
One milestone happened just this year when The Miller Group expanded by hiring advisors in Colorado and Texas. Chief Revenue Officer Pat Murphy said the agency’s goal is to double in size within 10 years through natural growth, not by acquiring other agencies.
“We think our growth can be strategic and organic, partially by finding the right people who fit our culture and values,” Murphy explained. “It also provides our current associates the opportunity to grow within the organization.”
The Next Chapter
On January 1, 2023, The Miller Group will enter its next chapter. The agency will officially transfer leadership to the third generation of Millers, with Amber Manning (daughter of Matt) becoming CEO.
It was an important decision that sets The Miller Group apart. In a time when large insurance brokers are buying smaller agencies at astonishing prices, it can be difficult to perpetuate ownership.
“We want to have a company where employees’ relationship with God and their family gets stronger, not diminished,” Sean explained.
“If we were to sell to an outsider, our values and culture would eventually be destroyed,” Matt echoed, “but what’s most important is perpetuating our values.”
It’s a legacy Manning, the Miller family and the entire leadership team believes in.
“It’s more than just our family. We protect our team, clients and community because we feel we make the right decisions, are ethical, and take care of each other,” Manning explained.
60 years after setting out on his own, Bob’s legacy is stronger than ever. After his cancer diagnosis in 1992, he went on to live another 18 years. During that time, he inspired countless people around him, who to this day, tell fond stories of his personality and inspiration.
“Grandpa taught us the importance of giving back,” Manning said. “As a Miller, we feel we’re here for a bigger reason than making a profit.”