At an age when most of his peers were picking out a college or starting out in the workforce, Austin Miller wasn’t just working – he was already owner of his own business.
At 20 years old, Miller had a pretty nice situation for himself. He’d worked his way up to being a supervisor at a local grain elevator, but he had the itch to own his own business. So he made a deal with his former employer – he’d rent an unused building on the property and renovate it to make a space for his own business. There, in that first humble location, Tire Star was born. Miller became a tire dealer.
Since then, Tire Star has moved to a newer, larger and more modern location, and then expanded. Miller’s brothers, Kyle and Eric, joined the enterprise when a second location was added.
“It’s brought us closer as a family,” Austin Miller says of his business relationship with his brothers. “We enjoy working together and looking for new ways to be more efficient.”
Miller has succeeded in expanding that family environment to his employees.
“People say that you shouldn’t become friends with your employees, but these guys make it so hard,” Miller says. “When we’re at work, we have business in mind, but oftentimes after work, we can be found helping each other work on our own cars. We’ve gone on hunting and fishing trips together. There’s a really good sense of community.”
He says that while he’s heard of technician shortages in the industry, Tire Star has generally only had to hire new employees to cover an expanding business, not to make up for departing employees.
“We try to have a compensation plan that is attractive to the employees, but we also want to make a work environment where they want to be. As far as our commitment to our employees, we try to be very involved with them. If they’re going through a hard time, I always chip in and help them out,” Miller says. “If someone’s in a tight spot and they need something, I always try and help them out, and in return they do the same for me.”
Miller is still working to improve himself and his business, and has not shied away from the increasingly complex service work that challenges many technicians. He’s been certified as an ASE Master Tech with L1 certification, and constantly seeks out the jobs that other shops turn away.
“The other thing we did and still do is to specialize in hard-to-fix vehicles, vehicles that maybe another shop took a look at and wasn’t able to diagnose. When we’re able to properly repair that vehicle, that goes a long way when someone’s been frustrated with it.”
To that end, Miller sees his future role as being Tire Star’s vanguard for new and developing technology.
“My goal is to get both businesses to where they’re self-sufficient, to be more of an overseer,” Miller says. “I really want to stay on the forefront of technology.”
Fun Fact: If he could meet one person, living or dead, he’d pick Jesus. “I live my life according to His principles, so He would be great company.”