Millis Transfer, Inc. History

Millis Transfer, Inc. (“Millis”) as we know it today originally started after prohibition with Jake and Ray Millis acquiring the Old Style Distributorship in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Beer for the wholesale business was hauled from La Crosse, Wisconsin, as well as freight of all kinds to and from La Crosse. In 1944 Bud and Mayo Millis bought out the business from Jake and Ray.

In 1947, they sold out the freight portion and concentrated on the wholesale beer business, as well as the Studebaker dealership, which they had obtained. In 1951, they sold out the Studebaker franchise after obtaining the Ford franchise. In 1954, they purchased the land and garage which they had been renting from Charlie Bunde.

In 1957 the Millis family again entered into the freight business with the incorporation of Millis Brothers Inc. In 1962 they decided to dissolve the partnership; with Mayo taking over the garage and Ford dealership and Bud continuing with the beer business, trucks, and warehousing.

The year 1962 started the swing into transportation on a much larger scale with the signing of a contract between Millis Brothers Inc. and the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Continuing the family tradition, in 1965 Bud sold 1/3 ownership to his son, Bill, renaming the company Millis Brothers Transfer. As the prosperity continued, in 1967 Ruppell Transfer of Chetek, Wisconsin, was purchased. This gave Millis Brothers Transfer additional authority to operate with, as well as more equipment.

In 1972, Millis Brothers Transfer purchased Beer Transit, Inc., of Heartland, Wisconsin. This gave Millis Brothers Transfer Common Carrier authority and additional equipment. In order to operate under this newly acquired Common Carrier authority on a much broader scope, the name was changed to Beer Transit. In 1977 Halama Trucking of Menomonie, Wisconsin, was purchased, again awarding additional freight as well as more equipment. Following a philosophy that service to our customers is of the utmost importance, all equipment purchased was evaluated keeping the better tractors and trailers and selling off the older, less reliable equipment.

In 1978, because of additional operating authorities and varied products being transported by Beer Transit, the name was changed to Millis Transfer, Inc., taking away the stigma that we only hauled beer and beer products. It was also done to put the Millis name back on the equipment.

In 1980, Millis suffered a great loss when Bud Millis passed away, leaving Bill Millis as our sole management leader. Bill, who served as President from 1972 until relinquishing this position in 1989 to his son, David Millis, continues on today as Chief Executive Officer and majority stockholder of Millis.

In 1983, JWI Trucking was purchased, getting the company involved in garment transportation, with very specialized hauling features, such as garments on hangers and consolidation distribution between Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois; and New York City, New York. In 1984, Higgins Transportation of Richland Center, Wisconsin, and Ristow Trucking of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were purchased. Higgins Transportation was very much involved as a carrier for K-Mart Corporation and Ristow was a smaller, short-haul carrier that got
Millis working as a local cartage carrier in and around the Milwaukee metropolitan area. In 1985, the purchase of 2-G Transportation increased the volume of business between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with beer being hauled to Minneapolis, Minnesota and glass back to the brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In 1989 Millis expanded its operation into the southeast by opening a terminal in Kennesaw, Georgia, and running, it under the name, MTI Freight Systems Inc. Then in May, 1991 the companies merged, with Millis Transfer, Inc. continuing to operate as the sole freight carrier and MTI Freight Systems, Inc. as the equipment holding company.

With the above acquisitions, but mostly internal growth, Millis has grown from 20 tractors and 40 trailers in 1982 to over 700 tractors, 2200 trailers and 100 plus Owner Operators. Millis is proud of the fact they were able to show considerable growth, and at the same time have a strong operating ratio. This proves growth has not had an adverse effect on efficiency.

There is not another company that has the quality of equipment which Millis operates. While most companies continue to cut back on the amenities, Millis continues to add to the tractors to facilitate driver comfort. Millis realizes that although the company is made up of a team, it’s the driver who is ultimately responsible for the successful shipper-carrier relationship. The equipment is inspected to provide the drivers with as many comforts as there are available.

Millis has a large customer following, with a variety of products ranging from glass containers, food products, paper products, and of course we are still associated with the Beer Industry.

Millis’ operation is run from a central location in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. The company has maintenance facilities in Black River Falls, Wis.; Richfield, Wis.; Weedsport, N.Y.; Streator, Ill.; Cartersville, Ga.; Burleson, Texas; and Trenton, Ohio. We also have drop yards in Ridgeway, VA, Albany, Georgia; Baltimore, MD; Atlanta, GA; Milwaukee, WI; Ft. Worth, TX; and St. Louis MO. To support this operation the business is completely computerized from Customer Service to Dispatch to Payroll and Billing, along with complete satellite communications with all equipment and drivers.

Millis Transfer, Inc. epitomizes the American Dream. Family- Owned and Operated since 1936.
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