It is with great sorrow that I inform you of the passing of our CEO and co-founder, and my friend, Ted Miller. Ted lost his courageous battle with cancer yesterday and his family, our company, and the construction industry as a whole, has lost a great man.
Ted was born and raised in Mableton, GA and attended South Cobb High School. He graduated from Southern Technology Institute (now known as Southern Polytechnic State University) in June 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering. He then went to work full time for Georgia Power (where he had been working as a co-op during his last two years in college) as a Sales Engineer.
Later in 1972, Ted went to work for H.H. Robertson Co., a Fortune 500 Company and the premier manufacturer of metal architectural products at the time. He was an award winning salesman for Robertson working in the Atlanta District Office and consistently outsold his peers. In 1979, Ted felt wronged by H.H. Robertson over being denied an incentive bonus and in a supreme act of courage and standing up for what’s right, he quit. Interestingly, he also quit on behalf of his friend and colleague, Dave Clapperton. In a story Ted liked to tell, he had to track Dave down on the road and let him know the good/bad news. On October 15, 1979, Ted and Dave sat down at Ted’s kitchen table and began a manufacturer’s representative firm, The Miller-Clapperton Partnership.
During the 1980’s, the company specialized in premium, custom designed architectural metalwork. Working as a specialized installing subcontractor, Miller-Clapperton built a solid reputation in the southeastern United States as a reliable source for polished stainless steel, bronze, and specialty aluminum architectural metalwork. They incorporated the business in 1982. In 1988, Ted’s lifelong friend, Doug Bruton, became the third partner of Miller-Clapperton and organized a facility for the fabrication of Metal Composite Material (MCM) panels. What began at a kitchen table with zero dollars in revenue and few dollars of capital is today a company that has performed work in 43 states and multiple countries, fabricates over 500,000 SF of MCM annually, employs 103 people, and has annual revenues in excess of $20 million.
Ted married Jo Dendy on March 7th, 1971 and was a devoted husband. Together they raised two sons, Zeke and Zane, who today each play critical roles at Miller-Clapperton. Ted and Jo enjoyed travel and watching their son’s baseball games. Zeke and Zane are each now married and each has a son and a daughter they are raising, so Ted and Jo enjoyed the pleasures of four beautiful grandchildren as well. Ted was an avid baseball fan and was actually in attendance on April 8th, 1974, when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record. Ted was a member of First Baptist Church of Smyrna where he served as a Sunday School teacher, a Deacon, and sang in the choir. Ted also served on the board of the Metal Construction Association and the Construction Advisory Board of his alma mater, Southern Polytechnic University.
In 2001, Ted was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. Most patients who receive this diagnosis do not survive more than two years and the five year survival rate is just 8%, but Ted was a one-in-a-million fighter who defied the odds. Ted never let cancer define him and referred to it as you or I would a bum knee or an achy back. One of his favorite expressions was, “Things are never as bad as they look or as good as they look; keep digging until you get the real facts.” Ted spent the better part of a decade having CT scans frequently, assessing what had changed, and then collaborating with his trusted Oncologist to adjust the type, frequency, and duration of treatment. Ted was engaged in the process and was a collaborative patient who developed a focused and fact-based relationship with Dr. Dubovsky. Ted always attested that, “You don’t know anything until you know the facts.”
Ted was tough. If anyone asked, he would describe the feeling of chemotherapy as feeling like the flu. Despite this though, Ted NEVER stayed home and felt self pity. He would simply show up for work the day after chemo and suffer through. Truly, he was the Cal Ripken, Jr. of cancer patients.
Besides being a successful businessman and cancer fighter, Ted was a man of extraordinary integrity, compassion, generosity, and humor. Ted was as honest as the day is long, he was generous with his time and his money, and he treated employees, customers, and vendors with respect. He had a great laugh, a kind heart, and he will be missed terribly.
If you would like to make a donation to the American Cancer Society in Ted’s memory, please click here:
www.cancer.org – donate
We will be holding a blood drive in Ted’s memory at our office in the next couple of weeks. If you are in the Atlanta area and are interested in attending, please respond in the comments section and we will pass along the details. For non-Atlanta residents, if you would be so kind to donate blood at your local blood bank in Ted’s memory, that would be much appreciated as well.
Thank you for reading Ted’s blog over the years. It was a labor of love and he seldom missed a week.
Thank you also for your prayers for the Miller Family … and the Miller-Clapperton Family.
Ted Miller’s funeral will be held on Friday, the 12th, at 2:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Smyrna (GA). The family will receive visitors on Thursday, the 11th, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Carmichael Funeral Home in Smyrna. There will be a reception in the church Fellowship Hall following the burial.
Project of the week: One of Ted’s crowning achievements and proudest moments was when Miller-Clapperton was awarded the Beijing International Airport Terminal II. Miller-Clapperton beat out 11 international competitors for the contract and Ted traveled to China multiple times during the course of the project.