J.O. “Joe” Miller, the former chairman of the distribution company he founded in 1971 and a Business Council of Alabama member during the important tort reform days of the 1990s, died peacefully May 13 at his home in Vestavia Hills. He was 86.
BCA Chairman Tommy Lee said Miller was an important player in the business community’s tort reform battles that successfully leveled the playing field for business in Alabama’s appellate courts.
“His legacy in the BCA is he was there when the BCA needed men of his caliber and companies of his size and caliber to stand up for what was right for business,” said Lee, President and CEO of Vulcan Inc. in Foley.
Lee said Miller worked with ProgressPAC and Regional Advisory Committees, raising money and following through to ensure the tort reform effort stayed focused.
“He understood very well how you change is to change the folks up there in Montgomery,” Lee said. “Joe was a very staunch advocate for tort reform.”
Joe’s funeral was May 18 and he was buried at Southern Heritage Funeral Home in Pelham. He is survived by his wife, Jo Ann, four children, 11 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and a brother.
Joe and Jo Ann Miller and a few trusted employees started Research Solvents and Chemicals in a facility in central Alabama. The operation included a small tank farm and a couple of delivery trucks but the Millers had a vision and guiding force of unwavering commitment to hard work, quality production, and a strong relationship with customers.
In 1974, the company moved to the Pelham Industrial Park.
It’s now known as Research Solutions and employs about 71 people operating from other locations in Atlanta, Lafayette, La., Mobile, Nashville, and Tupelo, Miss.
Research Solutions is embarking on a major expansion, said Miller’s son, current company President and CEO and BCA board member Jeff Miller, and continues to operate under his father’s principles.
“My dad has been a Christian his entire life and he lived that out every day and he lived that out in his business as well,” Jeff Miller said. “He always thought of himself as the ‘eternal optimist’. He was born during the Depression years and he learned early on make do with what he had and how to make something from that. That’s truly what he did.
“He and mom literally built the business from scratch,” Jeff Miller said. “I think his underlying philosophy was to always walk that walk with Christian values and core values and he did that all his life.”
Joe Miller spent his entire career in the chemical industry, first working for a national chemical distributor for 22 years and then starting the family business in 1971. He has been semi-retired for 20 years.
Joe Miller was on the BCA board for many years. “He was active in the days of tort reform, he actively lobbied a lot of representatives,” Jeff Miller said.
Research Solutions specializes in solvent and industrial chemical distribution, custom blending, specialty chemical development, metalworking lubricants, and related products.
Research Solutions creates eco-friendly results for the automotive aftermarket, original equipment manufacturing (OEM), and marine industries. It offers hazardous and non-hazardous waste containment, treatment and removal, environmental consulting, minimizing emissions, and maximizing the performance of solvents.
Since its founding, the company has remained focused on Integrity, Quality, Stewardship, Service and Discovery.