Utah has quite a few high-profile Millers.
After 35 years of selling cars, Mark Miller still gets calls from people with questions about his Lexus selection, which would make sense if he owned a Lexus dealership. “That happens at least once a week,” says Miller, who started selling cars for his dad Laury Miller in 1971 and now owns one Toyota and two Subaru dealerships along the Wasatch Front. His wife Kathy is also confused with the other Millers. “People assume that we’re all the same family,” she says.
Still, Mark and Kathy are doing just as well as their Miller counterparts in SLC.
Last January was the best sales month ever for their downtown Subaru dealership, which along with their other dealerships, is run day to day by their children. The Millers also make money from their full-range insurance company, car financing company, real estate business and Integrated Lending Technology, a software program that connects car dealers with credit unions. And the couple have been empty nesters for the past 14 years.
What to do with the extra time?
“We’re both workaholics,” Mark says. “Now our lives revolve around helping other people.”
The couple supports local organizations ranging from the American Cancer Society to Artspace and made a major contribution to build the Natural History Museum of Utah. Mark’s passion project, the Society for the Advancement of Genetic Exploration (SAGE), brings community leaders and scientists together to advance genetic research. “Right now, SAGE is trying to raise millions of dollars for gene sequencers [machines used to analyze genes],” says Mark, who chairs the society.
And even though it seems like a leap from cars to the human genome, Kathy says organizations like SAGE are adept at educating board members. She should know since she sits on nearly 10 community boards for local organizations.
Kathy, a former school teacher, loves working with the United Way to establish community learning centers, like the Hser Ner Moo Community and Welcome Center in South Salt Lake, which helps immigrant and refugee families integrate into life in Utah. “We go in and help them learn how to set doctors’ appointments and get drivers’ licenses,” she says.
This summer, the Millers will sponsor the U of U Pharmacy Cup Champagne Brunch and Polo Match on July 7, the University Hospital Foundation’s Ebony and Ivory Gala on Aug. 25 and Speed: The Art of the Performance Automobile, at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.
And one day, after they have both passed away, the Millers are planning one more charitable act.
“We’re going to have our kids buy the companies instead of inheriting them, so everything Kathy and I worked for will end up in our family foundation, and the kids will be able to direct where that money goes after we’re gone,” Mark says. “That will be our legacy.”