Don and Wendy Miller – No alarm clock? No problem.


Don and Wendy Miller find themselves sleeping in a bit later since retiring last July, and Don laughs that after hearing the alarm buzz for the past 40 years, it’s taking some time to get used to retirement. "I’ll wake up and think, wait a minute, I don’t have to get up this early," he says. "It’s a funny feeling when you’ve had the same routine, gotten up at the same time and done the same thing, for so many years. But don’t get me wrong, it’s a great feeling and one I’m starting to really enjoy!"

Don grew up on the family farm just southwest of Acme, Alberta. "It was a mixed farm, and by today’s standards probably a smaller operation, but as a young boy with so many chores, it seemed huge," he jokes. And like so many farm families back then, lots of kids meant lots of help, and the Miller family was no exception. "I was one of eight kids, there were five girls and three boys in our family."

Don Miller

Don’s parents eventually retired and sold the farm, Don cherishes the wonderful memories of growing up in a large family and life on the farm.

Don’s brother, Ray, was working at the John Deere dealership in Calgary before becoming a Petroleum Agent in Red Deer. It was the winter of 1977 and Ray asked Don if he would help him out for the season, driving truck. “That winter lasted three years,” laughs Don. After delivering fuel and learning the business for those years, it spurred the UFA Area Manager to ask Don if he would consider operating the Innisfail UFA Petroleum Agency. “I had lots of drive. I enjoyed serving the customers, and I enjoyed helping the community,” says Don.

"The best part of being UFA Agents is the customers who support you through the years and, in turn, you support them by ensuring their fuel and lube requirements are met day or night. You form bonds and these last a lifetime with them and their families. Generations of customers and friends in the community mean more than words can say," says Don. "I remember so well when the Gulf and the Esso closed in Innisfail, I hired one of drivers from Esso and together we called on all the Gulf and Esso customers and converted them to UFA!" And there were reasons why those customers remain loyal 40 years later.  

"In the busy times, we had up to 15 men and had trucks going day and night between the farm and the oil patch. Calls at midnight or five in the morning and working evenings and weekends were all part of giving the best customer service possible. These memories are ones we treasure," says Don.

Don and Wendy

Don’s nature is humble, and although he wouldn’t describe himself this way, truth be told, he is an extremely savvy businessman and it’s no surprise that he continued to add new locations expanding the business. For years he and wife, Wendy, owned and operated the Innisfail, Olds, and most recently, the Carstairs, UFA Petroleum Agencies.  The couple cast a wide net, serving customers along the QE2, and as far east and west as the eye can see. And it goes without saying, that the customers are what they will miss most in retirement. "We will miss the daily contact with our customers, people who have become friends, and many of who we see every day," says Wendy. "Small things like having a coffee together, have been a big part of our day for so many years," she adds that many of those customers started out very young. "When you’ve been around for as long as Don has, you even have customers who come in and say, I remember you from when I was a little kid." The couple says it’s always funny when a customer knows us, but we don’t remember them, and its especially funny when they recount some of the teasing that went on. "Often kids would come in with their parents and I’d point to the mop in the corner and tell them it was time to clean the washrooms," laughs Don. "The look on their face was always priceless, and lots of those kids bring it up years later. Hopefully we didn’t traumatize them too much!"

Don and Wendy will also miss their work family, people like Darwin, Trish, Brian, Cheryl, and many others who they couldn’t have done without. "There hasn’t been a day in 40 years that I didn't want to come to work, because I loved my job and I enjoyed the people around me. What a blessing to be able to say that," says Don. "They have been our second family and have supported us not only in our career but in our personal life. We have enjoyed every moment of working together as a team."

The couple’s son, Jeff, has also worked alongside them for many years and naturally, has taken over the helm. Don and Wendy know, customers and staff alike, are in good hands. "Jeff has been in the business for a long time and we know he will do extremely well. Now, instead of catching up on the day’s stories with Jeff at the agency, they’ll have to catch up over coffee at Jeff’s home in Olds, just around the corner from them.

UFA Area Manager, Tim Church, has also known the Millers for many years and adds that they are leaving a legacy of hard work, stellar customer service and easy conversation. "I was rewarded for working with, and for knowing, Don and Wendy. Not only did they represent UFA in the best way, going above and beyond for customers and their community, but I was rewarded in kind and in friendship. I was privileged to support their professional dreams and I am blessed to call them lifelong friends."

Don and Wendy celebrating Farmer's Day
Don and Wendy celebrating Farmer's Day from a few years back with Harold Haugen, UFA Director (far right) and his daughter Heather Snethun (far left).

Don and Wendy have certainly had a positive impact on those around them as well as in the communities they serve. Always ready to lend a helping hand, these strong community builders have made it a priority to give back whenever possible. In honour of 40 years, they are donating $1,000 to the several local community halls including Aberdeen, Cottonwood, Hainstock, and Mountain View. "Supporting the community through 4H, Curling, Bonspiels, Golf Tournaments, Baseball wind-ups, door prizes, and a host of other sponsorships was an important part of who we are. Giving back to the communities who were with you every step of these past 40 years," they say.

Don and Wendy have enough stories to fill a book, and the story of their life would almost certainly make the best seller list. For now, they are working on the newest chapter and we wish them many more page-turning narratives! Happy Retirement and thank you for 40 years of service.

Don and Wendy Casual

Don and Wendy Miller – No alarm clock? No problem.

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