Clay Miller didn’t think Missoula Saws would be a family business when he opened it in 1965, or that three generations of the Miller family would be working there. Clay had been a head saw filer at Intermountain Lumber in Missoula since 1939, when the shop was just a side project. He had opened the shop to repair carbide circle saws.
Back then, carbide was still an innovation in sawmilling. Word spread fast throughout Montana, Idaho, and Eastern Washington that Clay Miller was as good at sharpening carbide-tipped saws as he was with band saws and round saws. Missoula Saws was no longer just a shop, it was a growing business.
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The Second Generation begins work
In 1970, George Miller joined his father in Missoula as a sales manager and brought years of filing experience with him. Like Clay, sawdust was in his blood. In 1954, when he was just 26 years old, he was head filer at FK&L Lumber Company in Martin City, Montana. This job was followed by other head filing jobs.
George stated, “I worked with some of the best filers, and while I never actually filed for my dad, he was my mentor and always ready to help.”
George’s younger brother, Bob Miller, has been vice president and general manager of Missoula Saw since 1973. Before that, he worked in the filing room at Broeder Brothers Lumber Company in Kalispell, Montana. Bob would go into the filing room at Broeder Lumber and watch George. That’s what got him started in filing.
Bob says “I learned about half of what I know about saws from George and the other half from dad. It was great to have two good teachers in the family.”
The third generation is handed over the business.
Bob’s oldest son, Brian Miller, began work at Missoula Saws in 1986. Before that, he worked on the green chain and was a tail sawer behind the head rig and the edger at Superior Lumber Company in Columbia Falls, Montana.
Brian says he liked the idea of being part of the family business. “Working on saws is one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had. Grandpa had already retired when I went to work at Missoula Saws and my dad and uncle George helped me learn how to put up a good saw.”
Brian wasn’t the only son to join the company. Barry Miller started in 1991 as a teenager working part-time but is now our full-time aw filer. In between, he also worked at nearby Plum Creek Timber. Like his father, he worked on the green chain and was also a dry chain grader. In 1996, Rodney Munson, also a teenager, started working for Missoula Saws in the shop after school. He also learned how to put up good saws, learning from his dad and uncle George.
All the Millers of Missoula Saws feel they’ve done well in sawmilling and the sawmilling has done well for them. They understand that part of their success is keeping up with changes in the industry. “You can never stop learning” was George Miller’s advice to young people going into filing. That’s good advice for anyone and it still holds true today.
Since Clay Miller and George Miller have passed away and Bob Miller retired in January 2002, this left the third generation of Millers to move into the future and carry on the valuable knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Brian Miller, Barry Miller, and Rodney Munson began the next generation of Missoula Saws. They remember what Uncle George said, “you need to keep up with the changes, whatever it takes.” Therefore, in September 2002, they purchased Saw Performance Specialists in Kalispell, Montana.
The Saw Performance office was relocated to its current Columbia Falls location which Barry Miller runs while Brian and Rodney run the Missoula office. Both facilities feature state-of-the-art sharpening equipment and sharpening services for primary and secondary forest products facilities, and other industrial facilities, as well as for the cabinet and furniture industry. They are also Simonds wood and metal-cutting band saw-welding centers.
Brad Miller joined the team at the Columbia Falls location in 2004. He brought with him 15+ years of millwright experience. This experience helps Brad work with our customers to troubleshoot problems getting their equipment to operate at optimum capacity.
Today, both locations are major distributors for several saw and saw maintenance equipment companies.
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