I sat down with Bernie Frank recently who's been a Miller Auto & Marine employee for 10 years. Bernie is one of our courtesy drivers, and one of the most real, genuine people I've met. Our customers have plenty of good things to say about this gentleman - here's what makes Bernie Miller.
Front Seat Confessional
"I have a pretty good gift of gab," Bernie says.
"I’m fortunate that I can communicate with pretty much anyone. There have been times I’ve had customers that for whatever reason – like the issues with their vehicle – have been pretty upset when I pick them up. And, I can handle them pretty well. A lot of times I have the customer giggling or chuckling by the time I drop them off. You have to handle people with kid gloves. You sympathize a little, relate to their situation, and pretty soon they mellow out. Getting upset is a spur of the moment thing – it’s anger about a situation. The timing is never right," he said.
"You very rarely have an awkward pause in my car! Sometimes it seems like people just want to talk to somebody, to let it out. I’ve found out more than I need to know on several occasions! But that’s okay. I tell people, if you want to talk, I’ll listen. You just don’t know what’s going on in their life, or what they’re going through. I like hearing people’s stories and really look forward to conversations with our customers who are ethnic. I’m fascinated by their backgrounds, customs, and language. It’s given me such good perspective on the world. It’s a definite plus. That’s why I’ve been doing this for 10 years. I enjoy people. I really enjoy our customers and interacting with them," he said.
Bernie's advice? "Keep your ears open. There’s a time to be quiet and listen. And, there’s a time to communicate with people also. This will help in how people perceive you and trust you. If you’re legitimate and you’re honest – what you see is what you get – you’ll do well. People will respond to you," he added.
His Forever Industry
Bernie is one of the original founders of the Honda House, having opened the business with Walt Pederson in 1965. Before that, he spent five years at a Chevrolet dealership in Little Falls. He’s been in the auto industry for a long time and knows a lot of people in the central Minnesota community. “More or less my whole life,” Bernie says laughing. He worked at the State Reformatory (now the Minnesota Correctional Facility) in St. Cloud – starting their small engines program in the 1970’s – which continued through the 2000’s. He taught Small Engines night school at the St. Cloud Technical and Community College in St. Cloud for 12 years. Then, Bernie took a position with Remmele Engineering in St. Paul – working in its Big Lake facility.
"I worked there for 25 years – I managed the shipping and receiving department, and handled the communication between outside vendors, truckers, and other logistic-related customers." He wasn't quite ready for retirement after Remmele Engineering and has been with Miller Auto & Marine for 10 years. He drives the courtesy shuttle three days a week in the mornings. After a total knee replacement in April, he reduced his hours. “I told them I needed a little bit more Bernie time," he said laughing. And what is Bernie Time? He instantly replied with, "I would say every person should be able to spend three hours a day fishing."
The Miller Difference
“This is a good company. I’ve seen a lot of things over the years working with different companies. No matter where you work, for yourself or for another business, it has its ups and downs. I’ve known the Miller family for decades – I’ve known Tom longer than I’ve worked for him. As far as I’m concerned, they’re good people. They are good to work for. Miller Auto & Marine is a great place to buy vehicles, too. I’ve bought from them for years, so have my kids. Again, that’s testament to the Millers and their level of service," he said.
"I enjoy everyone who works here, and you know what? It’s a real team effort. There isn’t a single person regardless of position who could say I do it all or are more important than any other team member, and I like that. There's just team mentality. Every single person in the Miller Auto & Marine team is a cog in the wheel. And, if one of those people aren’t doing their job the wheel won’t turn right. We have to be doing something right; we’ve been recognized as a Minnesota Star Tribune Top 100 Workplace for three years and that is voted on by employees. That has to tell you something," Bernie stated.