From Gasket Scraper to Senior Field Technician
Rick Miller inherited his love of engines from his father, Hugo Miller, a truck engine mechanic in California.
“Dad would always be working on some engine or fiddling with some piece of equipment in the garage when we were growing up,” Rick says. “There was nothing he couldn’t fix or make run better. As a family, we never paid anyone to repair something that broke. It did not matter if it was a washing machine, refrigerator, or something electrical – Dad did his own repairs. It was a source of pride.”
As the youngest of two boys, some of the dirtiest jobs fell to Rick. While his dad and older brother worked on equipment, he cleaned and prepared parts for re-assembly. By the time he was 8, he was the most accomplished gasket scraper in the family.
Throughout high school, Rick worked with his dad and brother in the shop learning the ins and outs of engine and equipment repair. However, the most important thing he learned from his dad was the value of hard work and the satisfaction received from a job well done. “There is no greater reward than being able to help someone when they need it most,” says Rick.
Early Days – Learning & Improving
After finishing high school, Rick joined the Army. Four years later, he returned to California and began working as a mechanic for a school bus company. “It wasn’t easy getting an opportunity right out of the military. People saw a young man too young and too inexperienced,” said Rick. “I had to prove myself. I worked a second shift and kept my nose down, learning and improving.”
Rick eventually hired on with a small family-owned concrete quarry prior to them being purchased by Hanson Aggregates. It was here that Rick really grew. His curiosity to discover and figure things out made him want to become a troubleshooter and helped him succeed in machine and equipment repair work.
Between 70-80% of Hanson’s equipment fleet was Caterpillar. “My dad loved Cat engines. I think I was 10 when he brought in a Cat 1160 fishing boat engine to the shop. That was the first time I remember seeing a Cat engine up close, and I remember being very excited about helping Dad take it apart.”
Rick feels that the opportunity to work with Cat equipment on the job site provided him with a skill set that was in high demand then and now. It was also the beginning of an era where machine manufacturers were transitioning to more electronics. Caterpillar was the recognized brand leader and had the most cutting-edge technology of any machine manufacturer. “Caterpillar is the Cadillac of all machines,” says Rick. He believes the training that Caterpillar provided on their machines, coupled with his hands-on experience, gave him a competitive advantage over many other technicians.
In 2005, Rick and his family moved to the Midwest, where he took a position with the local Cat Dealer.
Now a Foley Veteran with a Voice
Today, as a 15-year veteran of Foley Equipment (formerly Dean Machinery), Rick is still doing what he loves most: helping people. By keeping their machines in working condition, they can build better communities and empower progress. “When customers need us most, we show up. That’s what we do,” explains Rick.
Not all days are sunshine and success, says Rick. Being a Field Service Technician is hard. You must be willing to start early, put in long hours, work hard in extreme weather conditions, and manage your time efficiently. Often you are on-call, even when you are off the clock. However, all in all, Rick says it is worth it.
“The pay is competitive, and you have the potential to make a lot of money doing a job you love,” says Rick, “but more importantly, for me anyway, is that I am respected and I have a voice. I can have an open discussion when there is a problem or concern. If I need help, I only need to ask. Foley has my back and is going to do right by me. That takes a lot of worry off your plate.”
Rick goes on to say he values the camaraderie he has with his fellow technicians. There are more than 250 Field and Shop Service Technicians across Foley, all with diverse experience on different types of equipment. When you need someone to advise on a particular equipment issue, all you have to do is call.
“While it is what you make of it, Foley Equipment is a great place to work. We have a culture built on respect and one of helping one another out for the good of the company,” says Rick.
Leading the Next Generation
He also works as a mentor alongside interns in Foley’s ThinkBIG Program. The paid internship gives new technicians the knowledge they need to succeed and can open the door to future job opportunities.
Rick says, “I would highly recommend ThinkBIG to anyone just getting out of high school that is interested in becoming a Cat dealer service technician. This program provides the foundation for a good career wherever your journey may take you.”
To learn more about a career as a Field or Shop Technician with Foley Equipment or to view current job openings, click here.