Van Gladstone Miller, founder and CEO of VGM Group, Waterloo, Iowa, passed away on October 18 of an apparent heart attack. He was 67 years old.
Miller founded VGM and Associates in September 1986. The company originally focused on the needs of independent home medical equipment (HME) providers, and grew to include 15 companies, most of which are focused on the HME industry, but also include the O&P profession. VGM was named this year as the Top Workplace in Iowa among large companies by the Des Moines Register.
Known for his easy-going personality, Miller still made phone calls to his 850-plus associates on their birthdays and work anniversaries, was a prominent figure at the VGM booth at trade shows, considered himself to be “one of the associates,” and practiced an open door policy in the office, according to a posting by the VGM Group.
He headed two companies that made Inc. Magazine’s list of the 500 fastest growing companies in the United States, was named one of the HME industry’s Ten Most Influential Individuals by HME News, and received HomeCare magazine’s HomeCaring Award. The American Association for Home Care, which had recognized him as a Champion of Home Care, said the organization was “terribly saddened” by his loss and called Miller’s influence in the industry “second to none.”
In 2008, Miller and VGM Group’s minority shareholders James E. Walsh Jr. and John Deery Jr. sold 100 percent of the company stock to its employees through an Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP).
“Van thought of those who work for the company first, and his community second. His consummate skill in managing talent and making hard decisions was evident to all who know him,” said Walsh. “He frequently acknowledged that his associates are the ones who built the enterprise and that they should benefit from its success through the ESOP.”
Miller is survived by Chris Livingston; sons Vance, Dax, and Christopher; and five grandchildren.