As the brewing business got back on its feet after the end of prohibition, brothers Jake and Ray Millis founded what today is known as Millis Transfer in 1936 by following their entrepreneurial dream and acquiring the Old Style Distributorship in Black River Falls, Wis. The need to haul beer for the wholesale business from La Crosse led them to hauling freight of all kinds to and from La Crosse.
With World War II winding down, Bud and Mayo Millis bought out the business from Jake and Ray in 1944. They sold the freight business in 1947 to concentrate on their wholesale beer business and the Studebaker franchise they had acquired. Bud and Mayo didn’t keep the Studebaker business long, replacing it in 1951 with a Ford franchise. In 1954, they purchased the land and garage they had been renting. The brothers reentered the freight business in 1957 with Millis Brothers, Inc.
The year 1962 was pivotal in the history of Millis Transfer. The brothers split the businesses, with Mayo taking the garage and Ford dealership while Bud stayed with the beer distributorship and trucking business. That same year, the transportation business shifted into high gear with the signing of a contract with Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company in Milwaukee.
Keeping the business in the family, Bud sold one-third ownership to his son Bill in 1965. The business was renamed Millis Brothers Transfer. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, the future Millis Transfer acquired several other freight businesses. With the acquisition of Beer Transit, Inc. in 1972, the business acquired Common Carrier authority, and for six years operated as Beer Transit to take advantage.
The company settled on its current name, Millis Transfer, in 1978 and put the family name back on the equipment to emphasize it was now hauling much more than beer and beer products. With each acquisition the company had grown stronger with additional contracts and equipment. Only the best equipment was kept after an acquisition.
Control passed to the third generation after Bud Millis died in 1980. Acquisitions continued through the 1980s, with Millis Transfer entering the field of garment transportation and its specialized hauling features, and local cartage in and around the Milwaukee metropolitan area.
The year 1989 was another pivotal year for Millis Transfer. Bill Millis stepped down from the role of president, a position he had held since 1972, and passed the leadership role to his son David. That same year, the business expanded operations into the Southeast by opening a terminal in Kennesaw, Ga.
Today, David Millis continues as President, maintaining the family connection. Millis Transfer has over 700 tractors and 2,200 trailers. With maintenance facilities in Wisconsin, New York, Illinois, Georgia, Texas and Ohio, as well as drop yards in Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Texas, Missouri and Wisconsin, the company covers the entire Eastern United States, but it is still run from its home base in Black River Falls, Wis.
The Millis brothers started a family business in the early 20th century, and a fourth generation maintains those same traditions and values today. To learn more about Millis Transfer, visit our website at www.millistransfer.com.