In 1880 Henry Miller constructed a building in Hartland, Vermont, establishing the Excelsior Carriage Company where a variety of carriages were sold. Henry became an exclusive agent of the Excelsior Carriage Company of Watertown, New York. This being the era of railroad dominance, the Excelsior insisted that Henry find space in White River Junction, Vermont, a regional hub and fast developing trade center. The move was made in 1895.
In 1902 when Henry Miller was away, his 18-year-old son, Garfield "Dusty" Miller, signed an order for a carload of Jaxon Steam Cars. This thrust the Excelsior Carriage Company into the car business! One of the first transactions was to exchange a Jaxon for a one-cylinder Cadillac owned by a man in New Hampshire. A year later, Dusty had made ten trips to Boston's Cadillac dealer to purchase vehicles which he then drove to Vermont and sold. Dusty soon decided he wanted to become a full-fledged dealer.
Dusty Miller signed his first order for Cadillac Motor Cars just months after the first models had been released in Detroit. It is hard to imagine what a bold step Dusty took in 1903. Keep in mind that at the turn of the century there were few paved roads, no gas stations and a small number of drivers. With a car sale also came instruction of operation: Electric starters did not arrive until 1910; drivers needed to learn how to crank, stoke, adjust and repair these mechanical novelties. Cadillac sold all cars to dealers on a C.O.D. basis; the fact that Dusty sold all cars purchased indicates that he was no ordinary salesman.
By 1910 the thriving business dictated that new buildings be constructed that were especially designed for auto sales and repair. Miller Auto now boasted 28 employees and was New England's largest Cadillac dealer.
In the 1920s Pontiac was added to the company lineup.
In 1933 Miller Auto began selling Chevrolets.
In the 1970s and 80s, William "Bill" Miller, a third-generation operator of Miller Auto, added Fiat and Isuzu vehicles to the lineup.
In 1986, Bill Miller hired 20-year-old Jo Cicotte as a car sales person.
In 1987, The Miller Auto Tradition continued when Bill Miller passed the management of Miller Auto to his stepson, Cam Eldred.
Like Bill Miller, Can Eldred grew up very interested in automobiles. Bill encouraged Cam to operate the Miller Automotive Company into the next century, acting as his advisor. Cam joined the family business and eventually took over ownership.
In 1991, The Miller Automotive Company bought Phil Mann's McNamara Motors, a Nissan-Jeep-Eagle dealership. Jo Cicotte was moved to the finance department at that dealership, and then became sales manager and eventually, general manager.
In 1995, The Miller Automotive Company bought the Car Store's Route 120 dealership in Lebanon, N.H., selling Mazda and Dodge cars.
In 1996, Jo Cicotte left The Miller Automotive Company and bought Green Mountain Lincoln Mercury in Barre, Vermont, a troubled business that was selling just 13 cars a month. In the first year under Jo Cicotte's ownership, Green Mountain Lincoln Mercury became the top Lincoln Mercury dealer by volume in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. "Implementing systems, managing inventory correctly and being aggressive just turned the business around in those first four years." Within five years, Green Mountain had grown to 30 employees.
On January 2, 2001, at Cam Eldred's request, Jo Cicotte retuned to The Miller Auto Company with 51% ownership in the company. Cam knew Jo's business was doing well; Cam also knew Jo to be energetic, smart and a quick study.
In 2005, Jo Cicotte became the sole owner of The Miller Auto Group.
In 2006, The Miller Auto Group bought the former Dean Hill Buick Pontiac GMC dealership in Lebanon, bringing holdings to five dealerships - four in Lebanon, NH and one in White River Junction, VT.
In 2007, The Miller Auto Group won bidding to buy former Dean Hill Motors' Saab dealership in White River Junction, VT. Later that year, The Miller Auto Group signed a purchase and sales agreement for Hartford Motors' Chrysler franchise.
In 2008, The Miller Auto Group's holdings were contained under five rooftops: Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, Cadillac-Chevrolet, Volkswagen-Volvo, Buick-Pontiac-GMC, and Nissan.
Ever a savvy business person, Johanna Cicotte recognized the signs of financial crisis within the automotive industry, and understood the necessity to streamline and consolidate business holdings in order to weather the economic climate of 2008-2009. The ability to think and move quickly allowed Johanna to position The Miller Auto Group as a stable, well-capitalized entity, able to not only survive, but to thrive in today's economy.
"Since 1880 The Miller Auto Group has been obsessed with serving our customers. During the First World War, the Great Depression, World War II and the 70's Oil Embargo, our business adjusted to the market and continued to grow.
The great recession of the 21st century is no different - The Miller Auto Group is a cornerstone of the local business community, strong and committed to providing our clients with great service, top quality, and excellent value - today and every day.
We're grateful that the community has entrusted us with their automotive needs for the past 135 years, and we look forward to being able to serve the community over the next 100 years!"