By: Luke Wyckoff Issue: Innovation, Growth, Job Creation Section: Business
Sustainable Transformation for Organizational
ICOSA: How would you describe your role as the CEO of Acumen Contracting Group (ACG)?
Miller: Currently we have about 100 employees and 400 subcontractors around the country. I manage the day-to-day operations and keep people motivated. I often make a lot of tough decisions that will keep Acumen one of the premier roofing and general contracting companies in the nation. The business comes first — so I work hard to hire people who are more educated and smarter than I am.
ICOSA: How do you define innovation and how has it become a part of your business?
Miller: We are innovators within our industry — we try to do things differently. I have modeled the business after the book The Purple Cow. I want our company to be the remarkable “purple cow” within the industry. Our industry is riddled with crooks and criminals and is notorious for taking people’s money and hiring illegal workers. We try to hire the best of the best. We run background checks on all of our employees. We pay all of our sales representatives as employees and give them health benefits and stock options — we don’t just 1099 them and pay them strictly on commission as a lot of other companies do. We are trying to be the first national/corporate roofing company, but the only way to get there is to hire employees rather than sub-contractors and share the future vision with them. They have to be on board. We want our employees to feel like they are part of something big and are helping contribute to the growth of Acumen. I like to think that we are the innovators of tomorrow for the roofing industry, like Howard Schultz from Starbucks.
ICOSA: Whom do you admire as being an innovator?
Miller: In 1997, I read The Warren Buffett Way. I admired him, his companies, and the way in which he conducted business. I think he has stood his ground and followed his beliefs. He is someone I admire for his business practices and as a person. I also appreciate Steve Jobs, who has revolutionized technology within multiple industries. He is brilliant and truly a remarkable innovator.
ICOSA: What are your goals within the company over the next two years to facilitate growth and job creation?
Miller: Twenty-four months from now ACG would like to double revenues and the number of employees we have working for us. We are in 12 cities now and I would love to double that and be in 24 cities within the next two years. Our goal is to continue expansion and open more offices across the country and get them all fully functioning and profitable.
ICOSA: What are you working on today that will help you meet that objective?
Miller: Social media! I am of the younger generation, and I really believe in the power of social media. We need a bigger chunk of the market share and using the Internet is a great way to do that. We need to increase our SEO because I want customers to be able to find us on the Internet. We are going to use social media to expand out brand awareness and really get our name out there. We are young and there are still a lot of people out there who don’t know who we are.
ICOSA: What are some of the things that American companies can do today to help with job creation, innovation, and growth?
Miller: I think everyone needs to stop being so greedy. When I was in Europe in October, I was watching the news there. France is bankrupt so they decided to raise the retirement age by two years. England is bankrupt so they have decided to decrease the wages of government employees and raise taxes. European citizens were all okay with this because they understood that everybody needed to pitch in and do their part to help bail the government out. The United States, on the other hand, just prints more money. Corporate America has gotten very greedy, and that mentality has spread to the general public. Our country has completely overextended itself to lead a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget. I think everyone needs to step back and look at what’s really important. I believe that people need to have a stronger work ethic and not such a sense of entitlement. We are no longer the innovators of technology. We need to step-it-up and start contributing to make a difference. We need to find more leaders and innovators.
ICOSA: Describe your role as Chairman of the Board for the C Different Foundation.
Miller: The C Different Foundation was founded to inspire visually impaired people to lead active and healthy lives. The foundation works to inspire and educate the community about the visually impaired by telling their stories and sharing the circumstances of the athletes and their guides. We’re about to celebrate our 10th anniversary and I remain so passionate about this foundation. Being the largest financial contributor to the organization, I work to provide the mission and vision for the foundation. I also provide a voice for the approximately 300 people who are blind or visually impaired who are associated with the organization.
So many people fear going blind. Society often has a misunderstanding of the visually impaired. It’s my job to educate the public and share success stories. I am the organization’s biggest cheerleader.