Video: Technology Re-Engages the Workforce at R.E. Miller & Sons


Since acquiring R.E. Miller & Sons in 2020, John Jeffery has been shaking things up.

The $8 million to $10 million business based in Dillon, Montana, had earned a reputation for its strong relationships and quality work on natural resource management, irrigation, site work and roadbuilding projects. But after being under the same family’s ownership since 1963, it had fallen behind on technology adoption.

Jeffery, who had been using machine control at his other construction business, Jeffery Contracting, for years, immediately invested in technology solutions for R.E. Miller & Sons following the acquisition. It’s a move that has made the team more productive and engaged, he says.

“The team’s very excited about the technology that’s available. They were craving the experience. They really wanted to be able to utilize this stuff, and now they have the opportunity to do so.”

Learn more about how Jeffery has re-engaged his employees in the video above.

Jeffery is one of 12 finalists for Equipment World's 2023 Contractor of the Year program. The Contractor of the Year program, which has been sponsored by Caterpillar since its inception, recognizes contractors who display the highest standards of business acumen, equipment management expertise, attention to safety and community involvement. Each year, 12 finalists receive an expense-paid trip to Las Vegas to participate in roundtable discussions and an awards ceremony.

Nominate yourself – or a contractor you think we should know about – for the 2024 Contractor of the Year Awards. Submissions are due October 6, 2023. For more information, visit

Equipment World serves up weekly videos on the latest in construction equipment, work trucks and pickup trucks – everything contractors need to get their work done. Subscribe and visit us at!


John Jeffery:

I started in this business just as summertime work while I was just out of high school to help pay for college. I went to work in the construction business, figured it was about the easiest way to make the most amount of money possible in a short period of time. I just fell in love with the work and the industry itself and decided I wanted to pursue that for a career. So I gave up on college and I went full board into the construction world.

I worked for a contractor in my hometown for about five years, and then I was able to venture off on my own. We started in the trucking business primarily, worked into the paving and excavation business. We ran that, just a company my wife and I started. Moved fairly fast with that. And as we were able to expand, this one become available and the opportunity was there and we were able to make it work. R.E. Miller & Sons has been around a long time. I'm fairly new to the team, but it's a pretty unique business.

The changes that I've made since I've been around are primarily focused on the workforce, the employees. For me, we had some rather large gaps to bridge as far as wages and getting people acclimated with the times. We have to be competitive, we have to have employees, so to me that's very important. My philosophy with the employees, I've just always felt that the equipment's easy to come by. The jobs are easy to come by. It's just trying to keep our arms around good, competent, quality help. That's been my number one goal, is to build a workforce that I would send to your house or your project, regardless of the scale or the dollar amount of the project. I want guys that I can trust in. I want guys that understand what our mission is and that do quality work.

At R.E. Miller & Sons, they didn't use any machine control prior to us purchasing this company. That was something that we implemented in the other businesses. We've probably been fairly heavy in it for the last five to six years. That was one of the highlights for me was to be able to offer that to the guys on this end of things and offer a little bit of support and just get them comfortable with it.

The team's very excited about the technology that's available. They were craving the experience, if you will. They really wanted to be able to utilize this stuff and now they have the opportunity to do so. Some of the benefits with the technology and the software, in my opinion, it's the guys re-engaging. It was stuff that we would maybe get complacent with because it was just the same monotonous way of doing business. And now with these new tools, they're looking at it through a fresh set of eyes and they're looking at better ways to utilize the tools.