Greg Miller is CEO of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, the Utah-based automotive, sports, entertainment, real estate and retail empire founded by his late father. Among other holdings, the company owns dealerships in six states, Prestige Financial, movie theaters, the NBA’s Utah Jazz and their home court, EnergySolutions Arena.
On Feb. 28, Miller appeared on CBS’s “Undercover Boss,” a one-hour reality series that puts executives in disguise and places them in front-line jobs in their own companies. Over the course of more than a week of filming, Miller tried four jobs at the arena. He made personal connections with countless employees, four of whom described struggles in their personal lives. At the end of the show, he sat down with each of them, revealed his true identity and, in touching scenes, gave them gifts of cash, tuition and cars. Miller sat down with Auto Dealer Monthly to recount his experience.
ADM: How did the opportunity to appear on the show come about?
Miller: CBS wanted to include an NBA franchise on the show, and they contacted us to see if we’d be interested. I’d never seen the show, but after watching a few episodes, I felt that “Undercover Boss” had a positive message and it would be fun to participate. The show is consistent with our family’s mission, which is to enrich lives. It’s something we as a family spend quite a bit of time focused on, so it was a nice fit.
ADM: Did you consider going undercover at one of the dealerships?
Miller: CBS was very specific to filming the show at EnergySolutions Arena, and having me go undercover with the Utah Jazz organization. Although I’m sure the dealerships would have offered a different perspective as far as the business is concerned, I’m confident the level of commitment and the dedication of our employees would be similar.
ADM: How long did it take to film the hour-long episode?
Miller: We filmed for eight full days.
ADM: What surprised you most about the experience?
Miller: I can’t say I was surprised as much as my thoughts were confirmed about what wonderful employees we have working for this company. I had always felt that they are dedicated and take pride in their work and it turned out that I was right. I was very grateful to work with the people that I did and to see that they really do put their heart and soul into their work and do a great job representing the values of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies.
ADM: Were you surprised that the employees you worked with were open with you and forthcoming about their personal struggles?
Miller: I was grateful. It was good for me to see firsthand what our employees go through at home and at work. I believe that some of the stories I heard are only representative of what many of our staff deals with on a daily basis. It was a very humbling experience.
ADM: Did anyone recognize you?
Miller: I think that maybe some people felt something was going on. They weren’t exactly sure what was up, but they sensed some familiarity with me, but couldn’t really pinpoint it. Once we did what the show calls the “reveal,” then the pieces came together and they just sort of laughed.
ADM: Did you throw a viewing party when the episode aired?
Miller: We held a small viewing party for family and friends in one of our Megaplex Theatres. Several of the employees featured — and their families — attended as well. We all saw the episode for the first time, together. I was a little nervous going into it, but it turned out great!
ADM: What advice would you give to the next executive to appear on the show?
Miller: Take the opportunity to really dig in and do the work with your employees and listen to what they are telling you. It is not often, if ever, you get the opportunity to go undercover on the front lines and find out if your mission and message is making its way throughout the company and if your employees are getting the support and respect that they deserve.