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Miller Industries

Miller Industries Wrecker Cable Assemblies: Carlton-Bates Delivers a Win-Win

Miller Makes Customers Happy and Reduces Costs Through CBC’s Cable Inventory Management and Custom Cable Assembled Solutions

"“We’ve definitely appreciated all the work Don (Murphy) and Carlton-Bates have done for us. The custom cable assemblies they’ve provided are definitely a step above what we were getting.” – Mark Dyer, Miller Industries Engineering Manager.

Customer: Miller Industries Towing Equipment

Key Goals

  • Procure customized, cost-effective cable harnesses
  • Reduce number of supplier partnerships to save time and money
  • Establish just-in-time inventory (JIT) process
  • Add expertise in design and engineering


Miller Industries tapped Carlton-Bates Company and its Assembled Solutions division to produce cable harnesses, utilizing their design, engineering and cost-savings expertise. CBC also tackled inventory management for Miller, almost completely eliminating related overhead.


  • Costs are significantly reduced by purchasing all harnesses through Carlton-Bates.
  • Miller successfully meets customers’ specific requirements for cable harnesses while also delivering a higher quality product and keeping the product cost down.
  • CBC’s flexible inventory solutions provided Miller options other than yearly bonds.
  • Miller is able to better manage shifts in manufacturing demand in a turbulent economy.

About Miller Industries

Tow trucks, or recovery trucks, were invented in 1916 by Ernest Holmes, Sr. in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Miller Industries purchased the company over 20 years ago, making use of the name brand “Holmes” and now enjoys the status of the World leader of towing and recovery equipment. The company is very proud of this distinction and continuously looks for ways to keep this title. Over the years, Miller acquired additional brand names, including “Century,” “Vulcan,” and “Chevron”, expanding their industry muscle.

A few years ago, Miller wanted to overhaul their cable assemblies on the large wrecker side. Don Murphy, CBC Field Sales Rep happened to be introduced to Mark Dyer, Miller Industries Engineering Manager, at the same time. Dyer was using an outside resource for custom cable assemblies but also engineering some in-house and wasn’t looking to make a change.

“A little over a year ago, we decided to revamp our cable assemblies,” said Dyer. “Honestly, I was introduced to Don and I was not interested in changing, but I listened and I was impressed.”

Custom Wrecker Cable Assemblies - Cost Challenges

It had become a challenge to find the most economical way to get the cable harnesses they needed. Maintaining the design consistency their customers required was not cost effective. Murphy understood the challenge and quickly turned to the Carlton-Bates Assembled Solutions team. CBC offered Miller a competitively priced, high quality custom cable harnesses assembly solutions that met Miller’s customers’ specific requirements. Eventually, Miller stopped producing cable harnesses altogether and shifted all the work to CBC.

“The Carlton-Bates cable harnesses were a much higher quality,” said Dyer. “Everything was labeled and marked. Plus, it was cheaper. As time has gone by, we’ve opened the door a little more, and a little more.”

Cable Inventory Management Challenges

Even as the industry leader in towing and recovery equipment, the demand for their products can change significantly. These cable inventory management challenges make it problematic to maintain large volumes of inventory. And while Miller wanted to maintain certain levels, they were concerned about bringing in more product than they needed. Murphy suggested using a combination of KanBan and blanket orders as a cable inventory management solution. The Miller assembly and procurement teams could easily project what they needed a few months out and then send orders to CBC. The inventory came to them just-in-time, exactly when they needed it.

Murphy, in just a few months, has built a strong rapport with the Miller’s buyers, engineers, and manufacturing team. In a recent visit to the Miller facility, an engineer on the line told Murphy he was having trouble installing one of the new assemblies. The electrical tape under the braid was too tight and the installation was taking too long. Murphy realized that just spreading out the tape to make it more flexible did the trick. Something very simple saved a sizable amount of time on the assembly line. For Murphy, spending time with the Miller team and getting to know all the aspects of its business proved to be an essential ingredient in this successful partnership.

“This has been a win-win for us. We have a better product now. Don and Carlton-Bates come in, they solve our problems, and they listen,” said Dyer.

Carlton-Bates Company is a custom cable assembly supplier with an extensive range of cable assembly products.

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