Originally created 05/04/01

Club Car president retires



A. Montague "Mont" Miller, president and CEO of Club Car Inc., announced his retirement Wednesday after a 23-year career with the golf car manufacturer.

The Augusta native and attorney helped transform the home-grown company from an obscure start-up to a market leader, guiding it through three leveraged buyouts to become one of the city's largest employers.

But the 61-year-old executive credits the company's 1,500 employees worldwide for much of the success.

"I really don't take credit for any of the success at Club Car," Mr. Miller said Thursday from his vacation home in North Carolina. "The success comes from surrounding myself with good people and letting them do what they do best."

A search for Mr. Miller's replacement is under way, and an announcement is expected shortly, said Gary Stough, director of marketing for Club Car's golf division.

Club Car, along with crosstown competitor E-Z-GO and Newnan, Ga.-based Yamaha Motor Corp., controls more than 90 percent of the golf cart industry. Sales figures among the "big three" companies are closely guarded, but Mr. Miller said his company occupies the No. 1 sales slot.

"There's no doubt in my mind we're leading the industry," Mr. Miller said.

Mr. Miller joined the former Fulcher, Fulcher, Hagler and Harper firm in Augusta shortly after completing his law degree at University of Georgia in 1963.

He started his own firm in 1971, and in 1978 counseled the eight former E-Z-GO executives who purchased Club Car from Denver-based Johns Manville Corp.

With third mortgages on their homes, the executives set their sites on chipping away at the market share of their larger competitors.

"It was one big family. It was fun, energetic, dynamic," Mr. Miller said of the early days. "Everybody understood the importance of doing things right, because if we didn't, a lot of people would lose everything they had."

Mr. Miller was hired by the company full time in 1990 and was named president in 1995 after the company was acquired by its present owner, global machinery maker Ingersoll-Rand Co.

He informed Ingersoll-Rand in December of his retirement plans and told Club Car officials in mid-March, near the time the company celebrated the production of its 1 millionth golf cart.

Mr. Miller and his wife, Peggy, have two adult sons. He said he plans to keep busy during retirement by doing pro bono work, teaching or possibly mediation and arbitration services.

Mr. Miller says he can't slow down too much - after all, he worked for a company that grew from 76 employees in 1978 to more than 1,500 worldwide today.

"At Club Car, there was never a dull moment," he said.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or bized@augustachronicle.com.