Metal Roofing Hall of Fame 2007: Don Miller

Donald “Don” E. Miller founded Classic Products, Inc., of Piqua, Ohio in 1980 with the acquisition of tooling and equipment for aluminum roofing, siding, and soffit product lines from Kaiser Aluminum Corporation.

Prior to that, he had been employed in engineering and operations management by Stolle Corporation, a division of Alcoa Building Products. His career has been spent in engineering and operations for manufacturing of many types of products.
He also has had a strong focus over the years in coatings technology. He currently is Chief Executive Officer of Classic.
Don and his wife have two adult    children.

Q. What are you doing nowadays?

“I am still active in the business, primarily with Engineering and Maintenance.”

Q. How did you get involved in the metal roofing industry?

“When Classic was formed with the acquisition of several product lines from Kaiser Aluminum, two of those lines were aluminum shingle systems. We saw them as product lines which were under-utilized and could be grown substantially.”

Q. How has the industry changed since you first became involved?

“In our early years, the vast majority of our products were used for commercial applications. Our products have been used on countless Dairy Queens, Pizza Huts and other commercial franchises.
“In the mid-1980s though, we began to see that the commercial segment was unpredictable and subject to architectural trends and fads. That was when we really started to focus on the residential end of things. We knew that a lot of work needed to be done to create a market for residential metal roofing but we also knew that the potential was very great.
“We have also seen technology bring numerous improvements in coatings which have been good for our industry. Additionally, from a manufacturing standpoint, one of the most challenging changes has involved shorter lead times. In our early years, it was not unusual for a customer to plan on a two to three week lead-time for receiving materials Now, most of our orders have to ship the very next day.”

Q. How has your business changed through the years?

“We have made the change so that about 95 percent of our work is for residential re-roofing. We do very little typical commercial work such as restaurants and convenience stores at this point. We have also seen the Internet have a major impact on our ability to market our products and educate consumers about metal roofing.
“Additionally, we do a fair amount of exporting today to countries such as Canada, Japan, and Australia, as well as several Caribbean countries.”

Q. What contributions have you and your company made to the metal roofing industry?

“We have been one of the leaders in terms of working with aluminum as a raw material. We like aluminum for its formability and ultimate durability.
“I think we are known for producing some of the most attractive products available today for residential use with our shake, shingle and slate facsimile products. We have also consistently led the way in coatings technology, being among the first companies to offer PVDF coatings, multi-hued colors, reflective pigment coatings, and also Kynar powder finishes to the residential metal roofing marketplace.
“At Classic, we have always seen that much can be achieved through cooperative industry-wide efforts. That is why we have committed great time and resources as members of Metal Construction Association, Metal Roofing Alliance, and The Metal Initiative. There is only so much that any of us can do as individuals in this industry. The real benefit comes when we work together.”

Q. What does the future look like for our industry?

“I believe that we will see continued increase in the residential use of metal roofing. Consumer and industry education remain the keys to achieving that growth. We must remain on our toes, though, in terms of taking care of our customers and being responsive to technological developments.”

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