Vietnam veteran and espionage expert Bill Miller - Ranger's new saviour
He rides a Harley Davidson, he never wears a suit and he doesn't know anything about football. Meet Ranger's prospective new owner Bill Miller.
The son of a factory worker, the Tennessee tycoon was yesterday named preferred bidder of the Ibrox club by administrators Duff & Phelps.
The 65-year-old is now one of the wealthiest men in the US state of Georgia and the millionaire, who is a veteran of the Vietnam war and former espionage expert, believe his past experiences have helped him become the successful man he is today. Speaking about his war-time experiences, he said: “These episodes in my career have helped me. I relished that part of my life. Knowing the strategy of your opponent is critical.”
Miller certainly had a good strategy getting his foot in the Rangers door. A £500,000 non-refundable deposit that proved a deal-breaker for the Blue Knights seems to have been waived to get the American round the table.
According to The Sun, he wants to transfer Rangers’ assets to a newco while he “cleans” the toxic company. It’s a business plan that’s raised eyebrows, least of all with the Rangers supporters.
One man fully supportive of Miller’s bid is Rangers legend Sandy Jardine. Despite very little being known about Miller’s background or agenda, Jardine has urged the fans to give the tow-truck tycoon the benefit of the doubt.
He pleaded: “I spoke to Bill at length this afternoon and took great comfort from what he had to say. I told him our supporters want honesty and transparency and I was impressed with what I was told.
“He wants to get Rangers back to good health and is eager for fans to have fun and enjoy their football.
“I know he’s working extremely hard to conclude a deal as he wants to make the club work. Our supporters don’t know a lot about him, but I was delighted with what he told me and he is clearly determined to get the club back on track.”
Miller's rise from factory floor to the boardroom has been spectacular. In the 1950s, he was a blue collar boy with the ambition of working as a line supervisor for Ford in Detroit. After advice from his father, he enrolled at the University of Michigan, where he earned a degree in engineering and later an MBA. After college, he worked for various big firms, typically getting involved in troubleshooting in failing departments before undertaking his national service, where he served in Army intelligence as an expert codebreaker. Miller would then work again for intelligence while in Vietnam.
His first move into big business came in 1990, when he bought three formerly great tow truck companies that were crippled with debt and combined them to form Miller Group.
Four years later, a shares flotation of the company brought in $30million, of which Miller pocketed his original $5million investment.
And now he is America’s top manufacturer of tow trucks and wrecking machines – a massively lucrative market in the motor-obsessed US.
His Tennessee firm Miller Industries employ 2000 people and made $109.4million in sales in the last three months of 2011 alone. That was up by a third on the previous quarter – and they registered a gross profits of $16.3million.