Bill Miller, a blue-collar Tennessee businessman who built up his multi-million-dollar trucking empire in the early 1990s through the acquisition and amalgamation of three debt-ridden towing firms was hailed by Forbes magazine for how quickly he turned a profit.
In 1991, the year he established his Miller Group company, he made a loss of $4.7 million as he attempted to absorb and smooth out the financial problems of the firms he had bought. By 1994, that had become a profit of $4.3m – quickly followed by a $30m revenue boost when Miller Group floated on the stock market.
By 1997, as Miller began rapidly expanding a secondary towing business, RoadOne, with the acquisition of 50 failing tow-truck firms in eight months, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspaper noted: "Wall Street thinks Miller can maintain the momentum, much like Bill Gates has at software giant Microsoft."
However, in October 1997, a group of stockholders brought a class-action suit against the company, charging that Miller and several of his officers had "disseminated false financial statements" about the company's growth in order to sell stock. The case was dropped by a Tennessee court in 1998, while the firm – by then known as Miller Industries – launched a vigorous public relations campaign in an effort to restore its image.
At the same time, the US Department of Justice launched an anti-trust inquiry into whether Miller's acquisition of so many branches of the tow-truck industry constituted a threat to competition. In February 2000, Miller Industries reached a settlement by licensing patents to competitors.