Family Bonds Run Deep at C.J. Miller
If you ask Steve Fidler Jr. how he became so good at his job as a foreman at C.J. Miller, he’ll tell you he learned everything – from how to shoot lines on pipe to how to check a grade – from his father, Steve Fidler Sr.
Steve Sr., a self-proclaimed “old-school” worker, has been employed at C.J. Miller for well over four decades. He has a respected reputation as a foreman, and two of his five sons also work at C.J. Miller. His philosophy on work is, “just do whatever you got to do, whenever you got to do it. The boss tells you to do something, you do it.”
“The most valuable thing he taught me is work ethic,” said Steve Sr.’s son, Eric, who operated an excavator at C.J. Miller for 12 years. “He gets up every day at 4 a.m. I remember when I first started working with him – he made you work. And he wasn’t the type to just tell you to work. He worked too.”
The Fidler sons joke about how there isn’t an episode of “Gunsmoke” that their Dad hasn’t seen and how he has worked here so long he doesn’t even need an alarm clock to wake up, but they also know he’s a good teacher.
“I want to try to get the guys to come up the ladder,” said Steve Sr., noting he is proud of all of his sons in different ways. “I don’t want to hold them back. So anything I can teach them, I do.”
Sons following in their fathers’ footsteps is somewhat of a tradition at C.J. Miller. There are currently 13 sets of fathers and sons at the company, including some fathers with multiple sons in the business. And C.J. Miller, President, and William “Billy” Miller, Vice President, took over the reins from their father, the late Charles “Buck” Miller Jr.
For longtime foreman Kevin Bitzer, it’s a love of moving dirt that has kept him in this industry for more than 40 years.
“It’s in my blood,” he said. “It’s all I’ve ever done.”
That love of getting work done and seeing all the pieces come together also translates to his son, Kyle, a foreman who majored in Construction Management at Pennsylvania College of Technology and has worked at the company since he was 15 years old.
“It makes me feel good,” said Kevin Bitzer as he stood, surveying Kyle’s job site in Westminster recently. “Buck used to tell us if you were an owner driving down the road, you would want him to say, ‘Damn that site looks good. Who’s running that?’ Kyle takes pride in his work here. Just look at his site.”
Kyle, who, remembers coming to the job site with his dad as a child, said, “As a kid, you’ll play with trucks in the sandbox, but I was right there seeing it in person when I came with my dad to work.”
When asked whether his dad was hard on him, Kyle cracked a smile and said, “Well he didn’t cut me any slack. I had to learn to learn quickly.”
Chief Estimator and father of five Dale Myers has enjoyed what he’s doing and who he works with at C.J. Miller for 31 years. His son Matt has worked as an estimator associate for nearly 10 years and his son Brandon is a traffic control manager who has worked with the company for six years.
He said it’s been nice to see both of his sons do well and to see what they’re capable of doing.
“I think it’s pretty neat we all work here together and that there are others in the same situation,” Brandon said. “I look up to my Dad and think he’s a good worker who leaves an impression on a lot of people.”
When Matt Myers first came to C.J. Miller, he was about 5 or 6 years old and peddling berries from his family’s farm to his dad’s coworkers. Now 35 and working in the office next to his dad’s, he says, “Given the choice, and as long as things are OK, who wouldn’t want to work with their family?”
He said he admires everything about his father.
“I always tell people I don’t like to act like I’m talking him up because he’s my father, but really he’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever been around or worked with. He just knows his stuff. Day in and day out he’s here and he does the right thing – his work ethic is hard to match.”
Additional Fathers and Sons working at C.J. Miller include:
Jerald Andrew and sons: Hunter, Edward and Dylan Andrew
David Arnett and son Daniel Arnett
Dave Mayo and son Roland (Parker) Bell
George Bollack and son Brian Bollack
Tony Hippensteel and son Tony Hippensteel II
Steve Hollingsworth and son Raymond Hollingsworth
Joseph Ramsey and son Justin Ramsey
John Reynolds and sons: Jerrod, Lucas and Austin Reynolds
Thomas Ulrich and son Josh Ulrich
Roland Wilson and son Brandon Wilson
Also, check out our recent story in the Carroll County Times.