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Luke Miller: Oil and Gas Exploration with an Entrepreneurial Spirit

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Luke Miller and family

Luke Miller is in the energy business here in Michigan. When asked what he likes most about the work he doesn't hesitate to answer, "The people that I get to meet!"

Miller goes onto explain, "There are multiple generation family businesses that are involved in this industry. There is a highly entrepreneurial spirit among these folks."

Miller is looking to bring exactly that spirit to his family's oil and gas exploration company, Miller Energy.

As the fourth generation of the Miller family to work in this business, he grew up in the Kalamazoo area.

"I grew up coming downtown to see my dad or my grandfather. That was always fun."

However, in Miller's words at that time, going into the family business was the, "furthest thing from my mind. I wanted to go out and do something on my own."

And he did after leaving Kalamazoo to attend college, earning a business degree, he ended up working for an oil and gas company in Pennsylvania. It was there Miller shared, "I realized I liked the industry and came back home to Kalamazoo in 2009, to work with my dad."

His time outside of Kalamazoo served him well and he learned a lot that could be applied to Miller Energy. He explained, "My dad's rule was that you had to go out and work somewhere else first, so that you had some value to add to the business."

The history of the company began with his great-grandfather moving up to Michigan from Kentucky, settling in Allegan. Eventually, the family moved their business to downtown Kalamazoo as the company grew.

Miller explains, "We don't do any work (drilling) in Kalamazoo. Most of our activity is in the northern part of the state. But, we have had our office here for over 30 years. Our roots are here."

When asked what advice he would have for someone interested in working in the oil and gas industry, Miller points to Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education.

He said, "WMU has a great geology program. We need geologists and engineers. Our industry is very technical."

Miller's most passionate advice goes out to people who share his entrepreneurial spirit.

"The biggest thing is finding something that you are excited about. There has to be a passion to put in the hours to take anything from zero to success."

Miller continued, "You also have to be willing to accept the risks. There are significant risks in our industry. You're talking about drilling a hole that is about 6 inches wide and about 5,000 feet deep, and hoping to find molecules of oil or gas."

And like a true entrepreneur he noted about the business, "There is never a true failure because you are either winning or you are learning something. Even the wells that don't produce anything become a data point in our library that we learn from, and can apply to the next well."

Free time for Miller, his wife, and their three children is spent enjoying the outdoors, and they are looking forward to the new mountain bike trail at Markin Glen Park. In addition to the new trails the park is being expanded with the help of a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as shared in August by mLive.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund was established in 1976 under the Kammer Recreational Land Trust Fund Act and is one way the Michigan oil and gas industry helps improve, and protect the natural resources in Michigan.

The trust also has helped fund other outdoor projects in the area, such as the KRVT Portage Creek Trail, Markin Glen River Access/ Kalamazoo River Valley Trailway, and Woods Lake Park improvements to name just a few.

Looking forward, Miller shared he hopes, "to build on the legacy of my grandfather and my dad, to participate in what they did, and hopefully, being able to continue that."

The community of Kalamazoo embraces entrepreneurial spirits and have no doubt that Luke and his family will have continued success with Miller Energy.

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