Case Studies

Miller Insulation Co. Inc.

Leaders in industrial oilfield insulation in North Dakota and beyond

Since 1972, the Miller family has been providing diverse insulation services from a headquarters in Bismarck, North Dakota. Donald Miller established the family-owned and -operated company in 1972. Having spent his entire career in insulation – specializing in oilfield work – he set out on his own later in life. Miller Insulation Co. Inc. began as a residential insulation contractor, but at the request of former customers, Donald and his team were soon back in the industrial sector, later adding commercial services to the docket.

Donald’s sons run the company now. Brad Miller serves as president alongside his brothers: Dwight Miller, vice president and Dave Miller, safety director. The family’s dedication to safety is only one factor that sets the business apart from competitors. “You can see what an emphasis we have on safety when one of the Millers is running the program,” says Brad.

Miller Insulation Co. Inc.

While Miller Insulation offers a broad scope of insulation services, the company’s forte is in the oilfield market. Aside from an incident rate far below the national average, the team has more experience and a better performance record than competitors. With approximately 500 employees, Miller Insulation provides high-quality, safe work to customers in North Dakota, throughout the Bakken region and beyond.

Peak performance

Brad says the key to the company’s success is its staff. “We employ very skilled and capable people,” he explains. “And we try to provide them the incentive to stay with us. We have a better benefits package than probably all of our competitors, which includes health insurance, 401(k), life insurance, vision, dental, vacation time, much of which a lot of our competitors don’t provide. We are able to hang on to employees because we compensate them well.”

Miller Insulation also tends to hire more experienced crews than its competitors. With a more efficient team, the business is able to provide standout value. “We’ve been around in the Bakken before it was called the Bakken,” he notes. “We’ve been doing work in this region since it was called the Williston Basin.”

“With more experience, we do a better job and we also have a professional safety program that’s better than most of our competitors,” he adds. “That’s a big deal for the oil companies. They like things safe and we like things safe. We can get on anybody’s vendor list with our safety record.”

The team has put its experience, expertise and peak safety to work on a number of complex, high-profile projects over the years. While the team maintains a strong presence in both the residential and commercial markets, industrial work is still where Miller Insulation shines.

“We were the insulator on the Dakota Prairie Refinery for MDU Resources/Calumet Specialty Products Partners,” Brad explains. “This was the first new fully integrated refinery built in the U.S. in 39 years. We have done most of the oil and gas plants in North Dakota. We’re a big player out here. We were the insulation contractor on the Hess Gas Plant expansion in Tioga, which was another major project in North Dakota.”

Outside of the Bakken area, Miller insulation has been involved in a number of unique projects. “We insulated the first cellulosic ethanol plant built in Emmetsburg, Iowa,” Brad adds. “Our team has done a lot of the corn ethanol plants from the early 2000s on. We insulated about 40 percent of the ethanol plants built in the U.S. We’re go-getters – we like to go out and do a good job.”

Maintaining a market share

Despite leading the market in quality, safety and expertise, Miller Insulation still faces many of the same challenges as its competitors. Regulations in the oil and gas industry continue to shift and the price of oil is down – Brad says the number of operating rigs has dropped by 56 percent from 192 to 80, which means his team has fewer opportunities in that sector.

Fortunately the company’s reputation, diversity and ability to travel have made it feasible to maintain margins by spreading out services more. “We think the sales will be down a little this year because we were heavily involved in the Bakken and there’s not as much out there this year,” says Brad. “It’s not going away, but oil has to be at the right price in order for companies to want to drill it. It might take a year or two to rebound and maybe they’ll never get back up to 192 rigs – you never know. We’ll stay involved there and we are also looking at different areas. We just picked up a couple of jobs, one in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania. We’re just going to go out and try to cover a wider circle and maintain the volume we had.”

Brad is cognizant of the cyclical nature of the industry he serves, meaning there is no sense of panic for the team. Miller Insulation Co. Inc. will continue to provide quality work on a diversified platform throughout the Midwest and beyond. 

Published on: October 23, 2015

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