Wendy Turner Miller is a mother of two, an accomplished attorney, a Chapter 7 Trustee, an active member of service organizations, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and The Links Incorporated, and on top of all that, the founder and President of SIS. We recently sat down for an interview with Wendy and are eager to share her inspiring story.
Have you always worked in the environmental and facility services industry? Not at all. I’ve actually had a long career as a Chapter 7 Trustee.
My first job out of law school was at a small law firm that did a lot of bankruptcy work for municipalities and the automotive industry. That’s where I started learning bankruptcy law with hands-on experience.
Then I had my two sons and realized working 60 hours a week in an office environment for someone else was just not my vision. I wanted a more integrated approach to work/home balance. So, I started my own law practice by taking on criminal and probate assignment work through the courts.
In the 1990s, Janet Reno was the U.S. Attorney General and yet there were hardly any women in the US Trustees program and moreover, very few African American females in these same positions in the entire nation. There were five open positions for Chapter 7 Trustees in the Eastern District of Michigan in 1998, and I knew that I had to apply. Was I intimidated? You bet; but I knew I owed it to myself and to other minority women in law to push past that fear and give it my best shot. Fast-forward to February 1999, after multiple interviews, I was appointed as a Chapter 7 panel Trustee for the Eastern District of Michigan, by the US Trustees Offices, a component of the Department of Justice.
How did your law experience prepare you for founding Superior Innovative Solutions?
I learned, practicing law, to think fast on my feet and how to strongly articulate my thoughts, opinions and feelings. Trustee work has also given me an amazing perspective on business—what works, what doesn’t work, along with the best ways to run a business. Every day I challenge myself to constantly work on becoming my best self; learning from each moment, picking up new skills and looking at situations from new perspectives.
What led you to make a pivot from law to SIS?
After going through my divorce, I realized the absolute need, as a single mom, to create financial longevity and stability for my children; particularly for my special needs son. My law practice and Chapter 7 Panel Trustee position were not things that I could pass on to them, therefore, creating a company and a legacy for my children became my passion and my vision. Again, I pushed past the fear of the unknown and I got to work devising a plan. I wanted to establish a business in an industry that weathered storms and would always be necessary. Through intense research and networking, I realized that service work, particularly waste management, janitorial and industrial cleaning, were mainstays. These industries have seen a steady, substantial gain in both revenue and the need for each in facility maintenance services. I saw a great opportunity.
I talked to many seasoned experts in these particular fields of service. In particular, I’ve trusted the knowledgeable thoughts and advice of my boyfriend, at the time (now my husband), Thomas Miller. He, above all persons, has encouraged, advised and supported, where needed, my quest to create this sustainable business. The ideas flowed, the networking increased and I continued to push through the fear of the unknown until I reached clarity and my plan of action.
I created a business plan and incorporated Superior Innovative Solutions, LLC (“SIS”) in 2018. I started focusing on automotive work but quickly branched out to other industries including working with engineering firms, construction firms, utility companies, hospitals, municipalities and the US government. I am strongly committed to SIS becoming a premiere, one-stop shop for facility maintenance needs.
How have your sons played a role in your professional journey?
Oh my gosh… how have they not?
I needed to be an example to my children. I always wanted to show them that love, hard work, compassion for others and true commitment to your priorities can successfully co-exist. My parents raised me to understand that, and I needed to pass that along to my boys.
I’ve built my career around my sons. I was able to build my own law practice, creating the flexibility that I desired in order to spend more time with my family, and now I’ve founded SIS as a way to establish financial longevity for them. Over and over again I’ve pushed past fear. As a mother, you just do whatever it takes. Like I have said previously, developing a plan for financial stability for my special needs son, and creating a sustainable company, has been my driving motivation for creating SIS.
What keeps you moving forward in the face of discrimination?
The efforts we make towards achieving dreams—ignoring naysayers, not taking ‘no’ for an answer, thinking outside the box and believing in ourselves—have one major requirement in
common… starting with the end result in mind. It’s important to stay focused on your goals and to rely upon your faith. The negativity of naysayers often acts as the premium gas that motivates me to push further. I am committed to ensure that I always have a strong base of knowledge and to challenge myself to be constantly learning and evolving .
I also want to challenge women to think outside of the traditional box. I take risks and push forward knowing that I’m working for more than just myself. I’ve always felt that the purpose of life is to evolve and create growth opportunities for both myself and for others. I am living proof that women can thrive in different industries and different positions in different chapters of their lives, and that seeing opportunities from new perspectives can build entire businesses.
What advice would you like to give to young professional women and mothers?
Believe in yourself and know that you are your own driving force. Push past the fear of the unknown and dream big. Hard work and perseverance is what drives success in life.
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