Under 40: Jamie Miller, MTI Connect
Jamie Miller, 38
Senior Vice President
MTI Connect, Milwaukee
Jamie Miller got his start in the print industry at the age of 16. More specifically, he worked in the prepress department for a sheetfed printer, filing film proofing for the strippers. But it wasn’t the glamor that first attracted him to print.
“One of our football coaches was a graphic arts teacher in high school,” he recalled. “I took the class for all of the wrong reasons—we would watch football film during the season. By senior year, I had accumulated enough credits that transferred to college credits.”
During his junior year at Carroll College, Miller began a yearlong internship with Quad Graphics, which included a stint at the printer’s Martinsburg, W.Va. facility. The importance of this internship wasn’t lost on Miller, and he used it as an opportunity to grow and become a stronger player in the print game. He scored a job with Arandell Corporation, Menomonee Falls, Wis., as a sales trainee, and within two years, he and his wife moved to Minneapolis when he accepted his first official sales role. After nearly nine years with Arandell Corporation, Miller was ready for a change.
“I need to escape the endless press okays,” he admitted. “A lot of my clients were migrating more toward direct mail and variability, so I took a sales position with Lehigh Direct, a fabulous in-line direct mail printer later acquired by SG360°.” Miller spent three years there, working with retailers and advertising agencies in Detroit, and then moved on to work for Chicago-based Precision Dialogue until the company was acquired by local giant RRD in 2016.
Around that time, his industry friend, Bob Hackett, became president and CEO of Milwaukee-based MTI Connect, a company that is making the transformation to automated marketing trigger programs. Hackett brought Miller onboard to build out the sales organization. In January 2018, Miller took on the role of senior vice president, and is responsible for operations, sales and marketing.
Why he loves the industry: [I love] the constant change. The challenge to always be out in front from a technology and data perspective really motivates me. I have a passion for blending high-quality print with data to solve our clients’ marketing challenges.
Age roadblocks and advantages: Early on in sales, it was a major mental challenge for me. You had to work extra hard to prove yourself. I always remember, at 24, I walked into a room full of print buyers with one of the country’s leading retailers. I could hear them snicker. Over time, I was able to develop some very strong relationships just by working hard, being humble and solving problems.
His biggest career influence: I would say I have taken a lot from each and every person I have ever worked with (good and bad). But let’s focus on the positive. Starting my career at Arandell Corporation, I learned the importance of quality and serving our customers. The former owners provided me an opportunity to create my own career path. We had a great operations leader in Jim Geincke—one of the smartest people I have met in this industry. Bob Hackett (Lehigh Direct & MTI Connect) and Tom Benedict (Arandell) are both great leaders. At Precision Dialogue, there were a few people I worked with who really impacted my career path or approach. Todd Thompson, who ran the customer engagement group, was so good with clients and very forward thinking. Joe Carte (PD/RRD) and Todd Parola (PD/RRD) are great friends of mine, who have each taught me very different approaches to the business.
His most meaningful business accomplishment: Without question, it is helping build MTI Connect. Late in 2016, Bob Hackett was part of a group that acquired the assets of a company that was headed in a bad direction. He brought me on to build the sales organization. We literally had no sales pipeline and [plenty of] clients that needed attention. In 12 months, we built an infrastructure from the ground up and added enough new business to put us in a strong growth position in 2018.
His differentiating factor: We lead with data and automation. The ability to understand data, breakdown silos within our clients’ organizations and solve real-world marketing challenges will always be relevant. The equipment will change, and that will be controlled by data.
What he does for fun: My wife Sarah and I basically are full-time Uber drivers for our three children. Jackson, 12, Addison, 9, and Henry, 5, are involved in so many sports and activities that we are running from sun up to sun down. If there is time left, I like to golf—I am terrible at it, but I enjoy the challenge, fresh air and the beverage cart.