Happy 50th Anniversary

05 Sep Happy 50th Anniversary

I have not posted here in several years. The day-to-day work schedule is busy, and I never know what I can I post about that people want to read.  Once I stopped posting consistently, I just never started back. However, with the 50th anniversary of Miller Homes being this month, I was planning on writing a blog about how Miller Homes got started and how things have evolved over the years. I was going to start writing and have the man that has been here since the first day talk me through everything. Well, as many of you know, Mr. Gary Miller passed away July 15, 2023. His death was sudden and unexpected, so writing this will be difficult for me.  The emotional part is hard, and I am not certain about all of the details and names.  I will be writing from memory about things Mr. Miller told me over the last 19 years. I was taught to respect my elders by calling them Mr. or Mrs. and their last name. However, for this post, I will refer to Mr. Miller as Mr. Gary, because I will also be including his dad, Mr. Jack Miller.

As the story goes, Mr. Jack Miller was an insurance salesman, a top notch one. He worked for a large company that had some high performing markets and some low performing… but high potential, markets. Mr. Jack was known for being a great salesman and a boss that was very driven. He earned the reputation as someone that could turn a low performing area into a top area.  Because of this skill, he uprooted his family and moved several times over the years. The Millers moved to cities in Georgia, Arkansas, and Alabama. The last move they made was to Opelika, Alabama. Once Mr. Jack built a strong business here, the company asked him to move again. At this point, Mr. Jack was tired of moving his family.  He decided he would open his own business here in Opelika. Being in insurance, he had many different customers from many different walks of life. He looked at the different customers who had good and promising businesses. He recognized a business that looked like something he could make a living doing here, and it was the mobile home business. In 1973, Mr. Jack acquired some land on a corner on Geneva St. Opelika, AL. In September of 1973, Miller Homes opened for business. In 1979 Miller Homes found a new location on Pepperell Parkway next to Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar.

The opening of Miller Homes looked very different than it does today. They had to floor-plan the homes from the factories, unlike today, where we are debt free and buy our homes.  We do not pay interest while they are on our lot. There was one row of homes back then; unlike today, where Miller Homes starts by Mrs. Story’s like it did in 1973, but it reaches all the way to the corner of Pleasant Drive. The homes were priced as low as a couple of thousands of dollars; today, our lowest priced home starts at $58,900. Monthly payments were low as $64.00 a month on a new home; today we are happy to find a payment close to $500.00 a month. I believe I saw a newspaper clipping that had the highest priced double wide home in the 1970’s, and it was around $12,000.  Today our highest priced home is around $230,000. After Mr. Gary’s passing, during some of my cleaning up, I have found check stubs from 1973. The Light and Power bill was $24.24 for the month of December. The water bill was $3.12; to set up a home was $69.70, South Central Bell was $29.03, a newspaper ad in the Opelika-Auburn News $4.59, a T.V. and Washer and Dryer from Sears company cost $512.00. The last check stub I will share was from our friends, and Mr. Gary’s neighbor, Smith T Hardware.  One stub is for a water hose and supplies, and it was for $3.25; the other was supplies, and it was $23.00. The look of Miller Homes and the cost of doing business has changed drastically over the last 50 years.


The man that drove this train for most of the years was Mr. Gary.

When Miller Homes opened in September of 1973, Mr. Gary was 17 years old. He turned 18 in November.  He was taking classes at Southern Union and working at Miller Homes with his father.  In 1974, Mr. Jack had a heart attack. So, at the age of 18, Mr. Gary had to take over running the company. Mr. Jack was still a big part of the company for the next several years but not as much as Mr. Gary due to his health. Many people would say that taking over a company at 18 would be a crazy thing. If you look back at how Mr. Gary grew up, you would realize he probably did not grow up like most kids, especially compared to today’s standards.  How he was raised helped mold him to be the man that could take on this task at this point. Over the years, I heard different stories of his childhood. He was very close to his sister, Debbie. One story he told me with a smile on his face was about how they would take his BB gun and stick the end in the mud, then hide in a ditch and shoot cars in their hubcaps. He told me that he did not watch cartoons growing up. He said he watched The Andy Griffith Show. He asked for a basketball goal, and someone finally got him a hoop. He asked his dad to hang it several times, but he never did, so Mr. Gary got a chair, hammer, and a couple of nails and hung his hoop on a tree.  His grandfather sold used cars in the front yard, so he hired Mr. Gary to detail them in the backyard. He wanted them to be cleaned perfectly, all the way down to using a q-tip to clean the air vents. So, at an early age, he was taught hard work and learned how to deal with different people by watching his granddad with used cars and his dad with insurance.  This was also probably the start of him keeping his vehicles very clean.

Some people ask how Miller Homes has made it 50 years. The answer is simple: the blessing of the Lord, the hard work of Mr. Gary, and the loving support from his wife, Mrs. Dorinda Miller. Miller Homes was what Mr. Gary cared about most, outside of his Lord and Savior and his family. Sure, he enjoyed fishing and riding a boat at the lake, but he spent most of his time at work. He told me that early in his career, he would take half a day off of work to play golf. But then he realized he was needed at work and home more, so he gave up golf. He spent time with his wife (Mrs. Dorinda) and his daughters (April and Tracy). In the evenings, he would support the girls in their activities. As a family, they would take a quick trip to the beach or the mountains, but wherever they went, they had to ride through a mobile home lot or two.

Different seasons of life brought about small changes, but his work schedule was usually six days a week starting somewhere between 6:00 to 6:30 in the morning and closing at 5:00 or 5:30. We’ve always opened at 8:00, but closing time has changed over the years due to daylight savings time.  The last few years we have closed at 5:00.  Saturday closing time has changed over the years too.  We were and are closed on Sunday, because that is the Lord’s Day and the day dedicated for time with family. Many days after closing, he would go out to customers’ properties to see where the home was going and make sure they could get in without any damage. So, some of his days would start around 6:00am, and he would not get home until 8:00 or after. When I first started, we worked many holidays, because that was when the plants around here would close, and that was the only time many hard-working people were off work and able to look for homes. For a long time, we worked Christmas Eve for half a day. He told me that back in the 80’s someone came up here on Christmas Eve and told him that because he was the only one open, he was buying a home from him that day and paying cash. So, from that point on, he was open on Christmas Eve.  However, that changed a few years ago, when he decided family time with grandchildren was worth closing all day on Christmas Eve.

Like I said, he knew hard work and would not shy away from it. Working and being in charge at Miller Homes also meant he wore many different hats. There was a time years ago that he would come in with a long sleeve shirt and tie on, hop in our toter (large truck that moves the homes), hookup to a home, and go deliver the home to the customer.  Then, he’d drive back and do sales the rest of the day.  He helped set doubles on the lot, moved steps, and whatever else needed to be done. Owner, boss, sales, and setup, whatever he had to do to make Miller Homes successful.



His Wife

Mrs. Dorinda grew up with a dad that owned his own car business, so she understood the hours and hard work it took to make a business successful. Although she never worked in the office with Mr. Gary, she was always busy managing things at home. I learned over the years that Mrs. Dorinda was an ear for Mr. Gary. Mrs. Dorinda was there to listen to the positives and negatives with the business. I am sure that she also added her opinion when she felt it was needed. One of the things Mr. Gary enjoyed the most about Miller Homes was the fact that after the girls were older and out of the house, Mrs. Dorinda would go look at the lots with him. He would leave the office around 5:00, and she would be at home waiting for him to swing in and pick her up, and off they would go to look at customers’ lots. She would normally stay in the truck and read while he got out and walked the customer through everything, but she was there with him and always supportive. He would not have been able to put so much of his time and effort into building Miller Homes for 50 years if she was not the unbelievably strong and wonderful woman that she is.



Having grandchildren changed Mr. Gary’s work schedule and his overall work life. He started taking Thursday afternoons off to spend time with Mrs. Dorinda and the grandchildren. The Thursday afternoons normally involved two children going with Mama D and Daddy G; as one started kindergarten, a younger child slid into his/her spot.  It started with Trent and Trevor, then Miller, Tatum, Turner, and finally Tenley. His last grandchild started kindergarten this year. With grandkids in the picture, we started closing more on the holidays.


Service is also a big part of Miller Homes.

We have had a few different service guys, but the one who has been here the longest is Perry Pruitt.  Perry has been with Miller Homes for over 35 years and has been a large part of the long-term success here. Perry has done almost everything under the sun here at Miller Homes. From leveling and setting up the homes, hooking up the water-power-septic on the homes, checking for water leaks, installing or fixing vinyl, skirting the home, plus a lot more once the home has been delivered. Perry does it all. Perry has even jumped in and helped with the sales when we were in a bind. Perry is one of the hardest working men I know and one of the most knowledgeable in our industry. Perry has had many different helpers over the years. Some that were older like Raymond and Tyler to college students like Eric, Jaren, Joseph, Reed, and Michael to high school kids like Walker, Matt, Andrew, Chance, Marshall and Seth.  The last two Mr. Gary hired to help in service were two of his grandsons, Trent and Trevor. At the time, they were going into 9th and 8th grade. There are many that have helped over the years; I just named a few that I remember.


Office work is another part that keeps Miller Homes moving and shaking.

Over the years, we have had many different men and women work the front desk. They will do everything from answering the phone, taking messages, typing and filing all the paperwork (there is a lot of paperwork), keeping the office clean, watering the plants, running to get things that are needed, plus much more. There have been many people that have sat behind that desk, like Mrs. Jane Miller (his mom), Mrs. Debbie (his sister), Lauren, Misty, Mike (son-in-law), Mrs. Bettye, Hubert, Mr. Gary’s two daughters, plus others. The office job is not an easy job, but it is a job that Hubert has made his own since 2010. Since Mr. Gary’s passing, Hubert has stepped up big in helping me and Miller Homes.



As far as sales, Miller Homes has been very blessed. A lot of that has to do with our reputation, and that is due to our service and support groups, but also each sales person that has worked here. Like his father, Mr. Gary was very driven and at times could be hard to keep up with and work for. He hardly took vacations and did not understand why others would need to take days off. If you work sales, you are required to help around the lot. Sometimes that meant you had to help with the office work. Sometimes that meant you helped outside, like moving houses, moving furniture or appliances, decorating the homes, cleaning the homes if they needed it, plus more. We also did all of this Monday-Friday while wearing a button-down shirt and a tie. One thing some employees struggled to adjust to was the 30-minute lunch break.  Like the office job, this spot has seen many different faces work here. Way too many to name here, but I will mention a name I heard a lot, and that was Everett. Everett and a few others worked here when Mr. Gary had a daughter playing travel softball, and the work ethic and drive Everett and that team had at that time made it easier for Mr. Gary to step away on different Saturdays. At one time, Miller Homes had two lots. We had the main lot here on Pepperell Parkway and the other lot we had on Columbus Parkway. The main two workers we had out there were Lynn Walker and Sandy (Mr. Gary’s cousin). Outside of myself, I believe Sandy was the next longest salesperson to work for Miller Homes.

With the different sales teams and Mr. Gary leading the charge, Miller Homes was awarded the #1 single-wide dealer in Alabama for many years, I would guess probably 30 to 35 out of the last 49 years. Miller Homes has been in the top 10 overall sales for many years too. When I first started here, Mr. Gary told me that to be successful, I needed to do 3 things: Treat others the way I want to be treated, if I don’t know something tell them that I do not know but I will find out, and if you say you are going to do something….do it! I have learned over the years that if you do those three things, you will be successful; but it is long term success not short term. You will miss out on some deals because a sales person somewhere else will promise the moon to get the deal but won’t be able to deliver on the promise. I heard Mr. Gary tell different park owners and different factories that if you put the customer first, the rest will fall into place.


Contractors, Factories, and others

There are so many others there that have helped Miller Homes make it to 50 years. We have worked with some amazing factories that had wonderful GM’s, sales teams and service departments. We have awards on our walls from Fleetwood and Champion all the way back to the 70’s and 80’s. We currently work with Fleetwood, Sunshine, Kabco, Hamilton, and Deer Valley. All build a wonderful home that I would live in with my family. We have fantastic contractors that set our homes, trim out our doubles, install A/C’s, build decks, block skirting, install septic tanks, do perc test, fix lots, plus so much more. Without these wonderful contractors, we would not be able to help our customers from start to finish. Then there are others that have helped us get here. People at the different parks (owners, managers and workers), the ones that help us on the inspections (state, county, and local), and our parts suppliers.  Without these people working with us, it would be hard for Miller Homes to make it 50 years.


Last but not least… our customers

I want to say thank you to each of you who have bought from us, whether it has been one home or 10 homes. Thank you for those who maybe didn’t buy but told someone about us. Thank you to those who pray for us and this business. When I first started here, people told me that their parents or grandparents bought a home here and now they were. I have now been here long enough to see that with my own eyes. I have seen the grandparents, parents, and now the kids buy a home from us. It is wonderful to see generation after generation trust us and support us. Without you, the customer, there would be no Miller Homes.


Miller Homes is a family-owned business that is family-run and has been for 50 years. Some have worked here longer than others, but it started with Mr. Jack Miller and his son, Gary Miller. Mrs. Jane (Jack’s wife) worked here, Mrs. Debbie (Jack’s daughter, Gary’s sister), Sandy (cousin), both of Mr. Gary’s daughters April and Tracy, April’s first husband Mike (who has passed away), myself (son-in-law), and two grandsons, Trent and Trevor, and Perry who is not family by blood but he was family to Mr. Gary and is family to us.

Thank you all for your love and support to Miller Homes, as we have reached 50 years and look to keep going for another 50 if that is what the Lord has planned for us.

Travis Rush

  • Catherine Tidwell
    Posted at 13:35h, 06 September Reply

    Happy 50th! Praying for you & the family. Gary was a kind man and will be greatly missed. I believe he has left his business in very capable hands. Blessings on you, Travis & Miller Homes!

  • Marlene Barton
    Posted at 15:50h, 06 September Reply

    My husband and I always enjoy delivering homes to Miller Mobile Homes Mr Gary, Travis , Herbert and Perry are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.

  • Jeff Rothstein
    Posted at 02:18h, 07 September Reply

    Travis, Gary truly played a role in making my business successful. I was very proud of the fact that he liked me and liked doing business with me. He was a tough negotiator but I know you know that! Not sure if you know that he insisted that I sell him my Thunderbird. He had made up his mind that he wanted it and I was so appreciative of him and the support he gave me that I sold him the Thunderbird.
    Gary was a good man, I know I miss him and think about him every time I can to OpeliKa for sure.

  • Phillip Rush
    Posted at 21:05h, 25 September Reply

    Wonderful comments! Thank you for sharing so many touching details about Gary Miller and Miller home. This was most importantly God honoring. Thank you again. May the Lord bless and use you for years to come.

Post A Comment