Tell us a little bit about BASE Transportation Solutions:
BASE is a family business — the name is actually an acronym of the first names of my family members, myself included as the A. We’ve been operating out of the Chicago area since 1987, when my father started the company as a second venture after taking an early retirement from his first career. Today I’m technically the Owner and President, as the only one of us who is still involved in actual operations, but “Director” feels more accurate for my role.
We have three employees, and then about 26 IO’s who drive for us consistently. Our fleet (sedans and SUV’s) fluctuates on demand, and by season.
We’re doing predominantly B2B, concierge-style transportation for professionals and C-suite executives, with a tremendous amount of affiliate work — probably 30% of our business, at this point. This is a result of some pivoting I did during the pandemic, but it’s been very effective for us and honestly, BASE has never been stronger.
What do you wish more people knew about BASE?
Our entire model is built on relationships, both internally and with our clients. We have two employees (not actual Miller family members) who have been with us for over 20 years, and I’m deeply proud of that. Meanwhile, I always compare our team to Executive Assistants with regard to the type of service we provide: consistent, personalized, highly professional. Our concierge-style approach means we are with our clients no matter where they are — Chicago and beyond — and that includes me. I’m available to everyone, 24-hours a day, via my cell.
How did you, personally, end up in the transportation industry?
I was 11 when I became the A in BASE, so on some level it was destined, but I officially made the choice to take over when my dad approached me about buying him out in March of 2001. Then September 11th happened, which basically catapulted me into a trial-by-fire experience of being a new owner in the midst of a dramatically shifting landscape. It felt completely insane at the time, but actually ended up serving me when the pandemic arrived 20 years later … for better or worse, I already had a kind of playbook for navigating total industry chaos and unknowns.
Prior to that I studied in the Business Management program at Northern Illinois University, and then attended University of Illinois Chicago for grad school in their MBA program.
What has been your experience as an ILLBA member?
BASE Transportation has been a member on-and-off for about 30 years, and I find the ILLBA to be a tremendous resource. The communication — specifically the newsletters — is invaluable, and the information they are getting from the City of Chicago and the Department of Transportation and pushing out to members is better than it’s ever been. Any operator should be a member of the ILLBA for that alone. Incredible opportunities to stay connected to the pulse of the industry, both locally and on a broader scale.
How are you spending your time outside of the business?
As you might have guessed by now, I’m extremely family-oriented. My wife and I have two kids (14 and 10 years old) and we’re committed to family activities and traveling and spending time together. I also have a theater background — was my initial pursuit during my undergrad, and I later completed the Second City Training Center Chicago’s Improv Program in 2012. Today I’m very involved in my local community theater whenever possible.
Any predictions, hopes, or ambitions for the future of our industry?
I’m curious how our industry will continue to specialize over the next couple of years. I feel like there is a collective need to dial in more deliberately on the high-level offerings that further distinguish black car operators from the click-to-ride services that are, of course, also proliferating. I’ll be interested to see what that looks like as the clients become increasingly savvy around their expectations and what sorts of experiences they are willing to have.