Concrete Empire

By MIchael Wicks

Photo by Chad Whited

Photo by Chad Whited


A Hardworking Bass Player and Precast Concrete Master

I had the privilege of sitting down with Philip Miller, industry leader in pre-cast concrete and head honcho of Alfred Miller Contracting in Lake Charles. I didn’t exactly know what to expect, I had no prior experience with concrete, or even construction. Having done plant contracting since he was 15, he has a firm grasp on almost everything construction or plant related. I don’t throw this compliment around often, but he was easily one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever spoken with. Soon I found out what was really behind the fenced in area off of Lake Street, a hardworking, family oriented business, which consistently innovates and excels in the projects, products, and people they deal with on a daily basis. Not to mention I got to hear Philip, a well versed bass player, rock out on a Chapman Stick, which honestly left me stunned. 


Titus Vs the Hurricane
Photo by Chad Whited

Photo by Chad Whited

It all started with a man named Titus Miller, Philip’s great grandfather, a bricklayer and father of seven. Titus survived the Galveston hurricane of 1900, which was the greatest loss of life caused by a natural disaster in US history, then moved to Lake Charles and formed the T. Miller and Sons business, which were masonry contractors. Many other businesses were formed from this initial venture, but when Alfred Miller, Philip’s grandfather, split from the company in 1947, Alfred Miller Contracting was born. The ground work had been laid for the Alfred Miller Contracting company, which currently specializes in industrial fireproofing, building construction, and precast concrete, but if you could hear the way Philip talks about his products and business, I can say without a doubt that he will be innovating something else, you would be surprised at how much this man knows about acoustics.


Seem Familiar? It's the Toyota Manufacturing Model, No Big Deal
Photo by Chad Whited

Photo by Chad Whited

Chad, photographer extraordinaire, and I were allowed a tour through his work yard, where they complete a variety of jobs, in a surprisingly small space. “We follow the Toyota manufacturing model,” tells Philip, “they really had to figure out a way to maximize efficiency with a minimum amount of space.” This is evident, especially on the fireproofing side, where two 6,000 square feet buildings, which move on a rail system, can process over 6 acres worth of steel at any given time, “day or night, rain or shine, as need be.” The single shift capacity is well over 500 tons of steel per week, if you want to see a time lapse of how this process works, visit alfredmiller.com/fireproofing, and watch the first video on the page, it really is an interesting process. 


Everyday I'm Precasting  
Photo by Chad Whited

Photo by Chad Whited

“When everything you do is concrete, precast makes great sense.” One of Alfred Millers biggest products is precast concrete, which is heavily modular. This precast technology reduces the man-hours and overhead costs of the other companies by up to 70% and allows for maximum efficiency, especially because it allows his company to make everything they have to in house, rather than on site. It’s worth noting that the biggest thing they make is an insulate LNG trench, which are pre cast trenches, cast upside down around, and around 8000 feet long. Philip is heavily vested in European precast tech, which is top notch, due to the fact that many countries in Europe have very little available timber. “What you won’t see in Europe, is a two by four,” Philip jests as he explains some of the more advanced technology he employs such as his RaTech beam lines and magnetic mold systems. What really caught my ear though was the information about the Langendorf, a German made, industrial moving truck trailer system that has a skid frame, basically a giant pallet, and axles that don’t go through. So when the precast is made, the Langendorf opens its tail gate, and with the force of one thousand Olympic power lifters, squats down, backs in, and picks up the product which is then ready to be exported anywhere it needs to be. “People don’t copy us, because a lot of the knowledge and technology that is required to make precast work, just isn’t here in the US.” 


He's An Everywhere-Man
Photo by Chad Whited

Photo by Chad Whited

From Corpus to Pascagoula, and as far north as Dallas, they spent the last 25 years becoming a regional player in the concrete industry. In fireproofing, they reign all across North America, with Philip reveling in a job just finished up in Alberta, Canada. Now with the industry boom in Lake Charles, Alfred Miller Contracting wants to establish itself as a heavy player in the local game as well. “Younger people in the industry don’t even realize we are here, not many people know there is a company that does all that we do in town and on site,” Philip blurbs, “I just left a meeting in Ohio, and while I was there I met a guy from Sulphur, he had no idea we were even based in Lake Charles.” Even though in the last few decades most of their work was contracted out to regional areas, almost everything Alfred Miller Contracting creates is done in house at their home base off of Lake Street. If you would like any more information about the company, visit their website at AlfredMiller.com, or give them a call at (337) 477-4681. You will be pleasantly surprised at the professionalism and humility that exudes from everyone who works there. I would also like to thank Monica and Philip Miller personally for letting Chad and I tour your amazing house, it was very kind, and I appreciate your trust and generosity at letting us know all about your beautiful contemporary home, but readers, the details on that story are for another day.


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