Darlene M. Miller
President and CEO
Darlene got her manufacturing jump-start at Honeywell where she was a quality inspector of printed circuit boards. (Honeywell has also been a loyal Permac customer over the years.) She later moved through the operational and sales ranks with other employers, gaining the solid background she needed as a successful owner and head of a precision parts manufacturing company.
A “Can-Do” company with a global reach
Since Darlene’s purchase of Permac in 1994, she has established a “can-do” culture at the company that has resulted in cooperative teamwork; migration toward a paperless, green environment; an ERP system that keeps the entire team in the loop; entry into the global marketplace – especially India and China; the industry’s most advanced technology and equipment; and the achievement of ISO 9000 certification (mid-2008).
In its present location since 1998, Permac has doubled its space to 34,000 square feet – all climate-controlled to facilitate precision manufacturing, including space for in-house warehousing and customer inventory management, assembly areas, engineering and administrative offices and a leading-edge quality control laboratory. From 1994 through 2007, Permac has added high-end, advanced machines and systems - one of the first in its industry to do so in such magnitude – enabling it to reduce production costs and lead times, and provide customers with competitively priced, quality products, and sharply reduced lead times.
Personal and business recognition
Darlene adheres to a strategic plan for measured growth of 15 percent per year. Her success and business acumen have earned accolades for Darlene and Permac – locally and nationally. These include:
- Named “Number 23 of the Top 25 Woman-Owned Businesses in the Minneapolis/St Paul Area” in 2003.
- Named “Woman Change Maker” by the Minneapolis and St Paul Business Journal in 2003
- 2006 U. S. Chamber Small Business Person of the Year
- 2007 U.S. Chamber Blue Ribbon award winner and Regional Finalist of US Small Business of the Year 2007
- 2008 U. S. Chamber Blue Ribbon award winner and Regional Finalist of U. S. Chamber Small Business of the Year 2008
- 2008 U. S. Chamber Small Business of the Year winner
- 2010 Burnsville Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year
- 2011 Invited Speaker at the Clinton Global Initiative on Manufacturing Careers and "Right Skills Now"
- 2011 to 2013 Appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the "President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness"
- 2011 to 2016 Served on U.S. Chamber Board of Directors
- 2013 STEP Award winner presented by the National Association of Manufacturers
- 2013 Testified on "Women in Manufacturing" at the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee
- 2014 Served as President of the Precision Machined Products Association - the first female president in the 80 year history of the organization
- 2015 Testified on US Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule to the United States Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety
- 2016 Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship Entrepreneur of the Year
- 2016 Inductee in the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame
Making a difference in the community
Darlene is actively involved in the community. In 2005, she co-founded the local chapter of Hope for Tomorrow, a mentoring program that pairs business leaders with eighth and ninth-grade girls – and now boys – to create tomorrow’s leaders. Her other community and charitable activities include:
- 2005 to Current - Member of Advisory Panel for Burnsville Medical Alliance
- 2005 to Current - Hope for Tomorrow Burnsville Chapter Board of Directors
- 2005 to Current - Hope for Tomorrow National Board of Directors
- 2003-2006 Board of Directors and Member of Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA).
- 2008 – Finance Committee member for Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA).
- 2007-08 Member of U.S. Chamber Advisory Council
- 2007-08 Member of International Committee for U.S. Chamber
- Member of Minnesota Precision Machined Products Association (MPMA)
- Founder and President in 2007 & 2008 of the Minnesota Valley Medical Manufacturers Network (Med Net)
- Since 2006 Member of the Community Partnership Team for Burnsville, Eagan and Savage school districts which is part of Project Lead The Way (PLTW)
- 2007 Chair of Burnsville Chamber of Commerce
- 2004 to today – Board Member, International Trade Committee for Dakota County
Guiding principles and values
It is not surprising that Darlene values family, education and inter-cultural involvement. She comes from a hard-working, farm family of eight children and attended the College of St. Benedict. Darlene is the mother of two sons who are involved in the company and has five grandchildren. An avid traveler, Darlene is a member of the International Trade Committee, Dakota County, and has traveled to Ireland, England, Germany, China and to India with Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s Trade Mission.
Her guiding beliefs: “Something good comes out of everything,” and “You are never given a dream without the opportunity to make it come true.” Darlene feels that she has been blessed with many challenges and opportunities in her life – and looks forward to the coming chapters!