Like Father Like Son: A Career Defined by Dairy
As far as high school jobs go, Dave Miller and his son Andrew had similar gigs. They both worked for their dads. They both used their newly acquired driver’s licenses to get things done. And they both worked in dairy.
One difference was that they worked at opposite ends of the dairy-supply chain. Dave grew up his family’s Minnesota dairy farm. As a teen, Andrew worked at a Domino’s franchise.
While Dave worked where milk begins (cows!) and Andrew worked where it often ends (cheese!), they can trace their professional success to that Minnesota dairy farm.
“Once it gets in your blood, it’s hard to leave,” Dave says. He left farming to go to college and pursue a brief career in finance, but he eventually came back to dairy, just not to the farm. Dave acquired a Domino’s franchise, where Andrew worked in high school.
To Dave, the similarities between running the popular restaurant and running a dairy farm were clear.
“You have to be ‘all in.’ You can’t ‘kind of’ do either job. It’s a seven-day, 365 days-a-year lifelong commitment,” he says. “Being a Domino’s franchisee means you can get a return on your sweat equity. That’s what appealed to me. If I can outwork the next guy, I can be successful.”
The dairy farm gave Dave plenty of practice for that. There was the time he was 15 years old and the rest of his family went on vacation in the Black Hills for a week while he took care of 40 cows, some sows and the crops. Or the times he missed baseball season to help on the farm. Or waking up on Sundays at 5:30 a.m. to get chores done in time for church.
The way Andrew sees it, his dad’s dairy farm upbringing led to his success in building seven Twin Cities, Minn.-area Domino’s locations.
“He has the grit it takes to run a store. It does take a certain amount of mental toughness to do things right day in and day out,” Andrew, 26, says.
Andrew should know. After his high school gig working for Domino’s, he decided to go to college and pursue a career in banking. But he also found a desk job wasn’t for him. So he thought back to jobs he liked in the past. He thought back to high school.
“Everything pointed toward going back to Domino’s, and I talked to my dad about two years ago and said I wanted to come back.”
Now Andrew is running one of his dad’s stores, with plans to eventually take over. As soon as he began managing a college-town Domino’s, Andrew learned that, just like on a dairy farm, if you’re not working day in and day out, it costs you money.
“Right off the bat, I learned about the challenges of re-staffing a store quickly and scheduling and keeping inventory and just running day-to-day operations,” Andrew says.
And he’s learning a lot from his dad.
“I love working for my dad. He grew up on a farm, so he’s got what some people might think is a gritty, old-school style, but it pays off for him.”