Drive by any of Southwest Louisiana’s industrial plants and you’ll see enormous structures of steel and concrete. But what may not be so readily evident are the fingerprints of the company that designed and erected many parts of these plants.
For three generations, Alfred Miller Contracting in Lake Charles has been the region’s premier designer and builder of many parts of the plants that fuel much of Southwest Louisiana’s economy. This year, the company celebrates its 70th anniversary, a milestone cemented in concrete – literally – and achieved through innovation, hard work, family love, and a commitment to quality.
"We’re always innovating,” said Chester Miller, the company’s vice president of research and development and former company president and owner. "We work on the philosophy of constant improvement. Everything changes on a continual basis, and we’re constantly trying to improve.”
The company’s beginnings date back far beyond its establishment in 1947. Chester Miller’s grandfather, Titus Miller, a carpenter and general contractor in Lake Charles, launched T. Miller and Sons in 1901. Business was good and 46 years later, Miller’s son, Alfred, launched his masonry business, Alfred Miller Construction.
Alfred Miller ran his business from 1947 until his death in 1974. During that time Miller’s bricklaying business grew into one specializing in concrete work.
"We had between 15 and 20 employees when my dad ran the company,” said Chester Miller, who became the company’s president and CEO upon his father’s death. "It grew to about 65 employees during my time. We started doing concrete work as well as masonry and fireproofing work for the industrial plants. Our business continued to grow and our concrete work turned into precast concrete work where we cast panels at our facility and then haul them out to the job and erect them for the builders.”
Today, Alfred Miller Contracting has grown into a multi-service company that contributes to many parts of industrial projects. The business is supported by three legs: Design Build Construction of Buildings, Fireproofing of Structural Steel, and Specialty precast/prestressed concrete components.
For buildings, Alfred Miller Contracting performs detailed design of the building, fabricates the components of the building in their precast plant, then goes on site to erect the components and finish out the interior to provide a complete turn-key solution.
Fireproofing consists of spraying on a cement or epoxy coating that protects the steel from catastrophic collapse during a petroleum fire. These fires burn at over 2000 degrees F, and the protection can last from 1 to 4 hours, depending on thickness. Alfred Miller’s fireproofing facility produces more fireproofing (by tonnage) than any other facility in North America. It is the only UL Listed shop fireproofing facility in the world.
The third leg is specialty precast/prestressed concrete. For buildings and structures, Alfred Miller produces precast columns, beams, wall panels, roof panels, and floor panels. For LNG facilities, Alfred Miller produces special containment and drainage trenches. These can be enhanced to handle the cryogenic temperatures of an LNG spill. For electrical systems, Alfred Miller produces a precast electrical duct bank that has conduits cast in red concrete.
One of the most interesting specialty products Alfred Miller has developed is a precast pipe rack structure that can be erected completely from the ground. Since it is concrete, it doesn’t need fireproofing (watch a video at alfredmiller.com). This type of rack is unique because it can be loaded with pipe level by level, which steel pipe racks cannot be.
Alfred Miller recently received plant certification from the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI). The PCI certifies all aspects of precast production and quality control. Alfred Miller is now one of six PCI Certified Plants in Louisiana.
Philip Miller, Chester’s son, is now the President of Alfred Miller Contracting. He is a McNeese graduate with a degree in Economics. His son, Grant, is graduating from LSU, also with a degree in Economics, and is proceeding to the University of Kentucky to pursue an MBA with an emphasis in Lean Manufacturing. The legacy continues…