In February, Ponte Vedra resident George Miller was named executive vice president of the Construction Engineering and Inspection Divisions of England-Thims & Miller, a Jacksonville-based infrastructure and development consulting firm.
Tell me a little about your role as executive vice president for the Construction Engineering & Inspection divisions of England-Thims & Miller. What kinds of projects will you work on and what will be some of your key responsibilities?
ETM serves our region as trusted advisers, creating community through infrastructure and development consulting. As an executive vice president, I am responsible for developing the CEI leadership team and strategies to execute our business plan, maintaining our best-in-class service, and continuing our tradition of developing our team members. My objective is to assist in elevating all service lines within ETM to create opportunities in two ways: first, by focusing on client excellence by aligning our teams to our clients’ needs; and second, by providing mentoring, training and exciting projects to our team members to fulfill our promise of being the best place to build a career.
ETM has a diverse range of clients and projects throughout Florida, including completing the Jacksonville Beach Pier, working with the Jacksonville Jaguars on the Four Seasons Hotel, master-planned communities like Nocatee, Wildlight and Silverleaf and high-profile interchange projects. Locally, our projects include road, drainage and bridge infrastructure for St. Johns County, the FDOT, the City of St. Augustine, the City of Jacksonville, Nassau County, JTA, Clay County and many others. We are also involved with utility improvements within JEA, St. Johns County Utility Department and Clay County Utility Authority service areas, as well as residential and commercial land development, parks and recreation improvements and environmental projects.
I am thrilled by the way ETM collaborates internally, bringing together our collective knowledge and relationships for the betterment of our community, our clients and their projects. This includes embracing new technologies to accelerate the speed of project delivery, improving communication with the community, and elevating our clients’ management of their infrastructure assets. I am impressed by how ETM plans, designs, and supports the construction of infrastructure, which enhances our communities and identifies solutions for growth in our region. With so many people moving to Ponte Vedra and its surrounding neighborhoods, I’m proud to be part of a team that is helping to make sure our roads, buildings and community gathering places are ready to accommodate growth.
You joined England-Thims & Miller in January 2022. Tell me a little about the company and why it appealed to you when you were considering the next step in your career.
ETM was founded right here in Northeast Florida by three visionaries who wanted to take care of their clients with a focus on boutique, customer-centric, best-in-class services. Today, with the help of our team, ETM has built a business around taking care of not only our clients, but our communities and each other. In today’s market of acquisitions and rapid growth, it is reassuring to find a firm that wants to focus more on our community, quality and people, than solely financial targets. Whether we are placing a town on the map, protecting and preserving the environment, or building the infrastructure needed to connect people to what is most important in their lives, our “why” is creating great communities.
Choosing to join ETM was an easy decision. I had great relationships with multiple leaders within the firm and knew the type of company that ETM is: a company set to do the right thing always, while prioritizing clients’ needs and maintaining a great employee-focused culture. For me, it was important to work with a local firm that prioritizes the surrounding community, values and develops their team through a family-focused culture and possesses similar strong core principles to my own.
Tell me about your background, your education and career up to this point.
In 1999, I received my Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Michigan Technological University and began my career working with a contractor in the Detroit area. After a few years, I elected to change the scenery and moved where it was warmer, first stopping in Phoenix, Arizona, and then ultimately landing in Jacksonville, Florida, in early 2004. After spending a year in Neptune Beach, I moved to Ponte Vedra Beach and started a family. I have been very happy in the St. Johns County community and have enjoyed seeing it grow over the years.
During my professional career, I have been fortunate to work on a diverse range of transportation projects, including large interstates, complex bridges and highways, signalization and drainage. Throughout this time, I have focused on honing my skills as an engineer and leader, while mentoring others.
I’m always interested in why people select the careers they ultimately pursue. When did you first realize you had an interest in civil engineering?
It was not until I was in college that I began to focus on a career in civil engineering. After a short period of time, I realized pursuing a degree in civil engineering was the perfect choice for me. I had many different interests, so I explored several engineering majors from chemical to electrical engineering, and finally to civil engineering. In hindsight, my career path should have been obvious, as I spent much of my childhood outside working hard to build various things including forts, ice rinks, saunas and sledding hills. I always enjoyed seeing projects come together. As a civil engineer, it is extremely rewarding to work in the field and engage in a project from start to finish.
What do you like best about what you do?
Building community and mentoring others are two aspects of my role that I enjoy the most. While the challenging projects drive me to work hard, the culture of ETM ensures that I do not get burnt out. I enjoy getting the job done and getting to enjoy much-needed quality time with my kids.
Many local residents moved here from somewhere else. Perhaps you are among them. Where are you from originally and what brought you to the First Coast?
I am originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan just outside of Marquette, and I attended and graduated from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan. After graduation, I moved to the Southern Peninsula of Michigan and worked on large infrastructure projects in Lansing, Detroit, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. After spending my entire life in a colder climate shoveling snow most winters, I decided to move south, stopping in Phoenix, Arizona, for a year before discovering Jacksonville and ultimately Ponte Vedra Beach. There is a great mixture of activities in the area including sports, arts, concerts, the zoo and, of course, the beach and river.
Beyond the personal choice of weather and beaches, finding a place to raise my family with a stable work environment where I could grow my career was critical. Population growth here has continued to outpace most of the country and pockets of Northeast Florida have been driving forces for the rest of the state. Last year, the U.S. Census named Florida as the fastest growing state in the country for the first time since 1957. Recently, Jacksonville ranked No. 2 in Forbes “Best Places to Live in Florida” and these trends show no signs of slowing. With growth comes the need for jobs, schools and infrastructure. Northeast Florida has done a great job of keeping an eye toward the horizon with multiple agencies partnering in the industry to deliver a robust transportation program to meet the needs of the community.
What do you like best about living here?
Two aspects of living in this area that I like best are St. Johns County schools’ academic performance, as well as the large core group of friends and families that my daughters and I have gotten to know over the years. Add to that the weather and beaches, and it’s clear why we have made Ponte Vedra Beach our forever home. There is something to be said about driving over the Intracoastal to the beach; the pace slows and my mood always improves.
How do you like to spend your free time?
As a father of two daughters, doing whatever the kids want to do is my top priority. Both of my daughters work hard in school. Add to that homework, tennis and band. On those rare weeks when we have no outside commitments, we focus on having friends over and spending quality time as a family.