It’s Miller’s Time


Every month the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the Monthly Employment Situation.  These employment data are considered indicators of current economic trends.  Last Friday’s report indicated that 37,000 manufacturing jobs had been added to our economy.  Nearly 1/3 of those new manufacturing jobs gained were fabricating metal.

However, changes in overall employment levels are delayed in monthly labor reports, and appear later than the period in which the trend occurred.  This makes them a lagging indicator of economic trends. So let me, for the first time in a long time, get ahead of the curve with this story.

Sometime soon in forthcoming editions of the Monthly Employment Situation there will be at least 1 new job created. How do I know this?  Because as of today Miller Precision EDM is a new manufacturing company with one employee and that new job is held by Jeff Miller, the president and owner of Miller Precision EDM.  He is also the salesman, the tool builder, the research and development department, the office manager, the quality inspector, the machine programmer, the innovator and the guy in charge of shipping and receiving.  Jeff Miller is a modern-day manufacturer and a Renaissance man.

When I first heard about Jeff’s new venture my first thought was “that’s great.”  It was another affirmation that my high school class has and will continue to do well in this world.  Then I wondered “What is EDM?” and “Why on Earth is he doing that?”

To answer my question regarding the true nature of EDM, I turned to YouTube.  In 2:26 I got a fast education. In a nutshell, Electro Discharge Machining (EDM) is a method of machining typically using sparks to create a desired shape out of hard metals.  It’s a method used to make difficult, tight-tolerance parts.  It’s cool.  Check it out…

To quell my curiosities about whom and what kind a person opens a manufacturing company, I took the low road.  I used the phone and called an old friend.

Jeff Miller, I learned, existed as an entrepreneur-in-latency for the past 15 years.  He worked for somebody else, and he learned the machines.  He learned the technology.  He learned how to talk to customers.  He also learned that when the mechanisms of modern business churn, you can find yourself working for a company with new ownership and a business plan that doesn’t include your skills.

So, before the inevitable pink-slip arrived, he started buying EDM machines.  He also started talking to potential customers.  It turned out one of his potential customers had recently moved into a new facility and, for the right amount of rent and bartered EDM services, was happy to carve a corner of his facility out for Jeff’s shop. In a matter of weeks, Miller Precision EDM went from a recessed idea to a shop with 3 machines and space to work.  The company also carved out a niche of diversified customers in aerospace, defense and medical device industries.

Jeff paid cash for his first few machines, even selling a car to afford one of them.  He borrowed from family and friends to purchase another.  Most recently, because of the assets already on the balance sheet and the growing sales revenues on the income statement, Miller Precision EDM secured bank financing to buy 2 additional machines.

Earlier today when I spoke with Jeff he told me that he loves being his own boss.  He also mentioned that his dad was coming by the shop to pick up some parts for delivery.  Jeff was quick to point out that his dad’s position is an unpaid one….I’m guessing those kinds of job don’t show up in the labor statistics.

(If you want to check out Miller Precision EDM on the web, go to  The site is currently under construction because Jeff is also the company’s chief marketer and web designer.)

About Author

Mark Schmit

Mark Schmit has served multiple roles while with MEP and is currently the National Accounts Manager. In this role he is responsible for developing partnerships with both the public and private sector entities. Mark identifies new business opportunities that leverage state and federal funding with the goal to improve the competitiveness of US-based manufacturers. His major area of focus is supply chain improvement.


  1. Wow, what a great story! Sounds like a textbook example of the major characteristics that define an entrepreneur and successful small manufacturer. The bank that provided him the loan must have checked all the desired boxes for the elements that banks use when considering a request for a loan: character, collateral, cash flow, capital, and conditions (e.g. customer relationships). Thanks great article.

  2. Stacey Wagner on

    This really is a great story. And you are right that there are many “jobs” out there that are not counted in official census numbers because they are unpaid family members or friends of entrepreneurs. There is a tremendous push now to support entrepreneurship by both the Administration and from philanthropic organizations like the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation. I wonder if they have some methods for capturing those outliers?

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