Our History

A PIONEER IN AMERICAN TEXTILE
MANUFACTURING AND
ENTREPRENEURSHIP

From our early days producing and mending cotton and burlap agricultural bags as the Sam Miller Bag Company in 1918 to today’s multi-faceted textile design and manufacturing solutions, we’ve been at the forefront of the industry every step of the way.

our-history

Born from the ambition and vision of Sam Miller, the company continued to flourish under the direction of Miller’s sons, Marty, Ben, Beryl and Ruben. They expanded the business beyond agricultural bags to include home goods like clothespin bags, flour sack dishtowels and OEM collaborations with Milliken and Toro.

In 1986, grandson of original founder Sam Miller and current CEO Mike Miller joined the family business, working his way from the factory floor to the business office, eventually purchasing the business from his family in 1993. During this time, Miller was fortunate to meet and collaborate with the talented designer, entrepreneur, manufacturer, and future Airtex President Susan Shields.

While Miller was learning the family business, Shields was establishing her own cottage industry business out of her basement. Products included hand painted glassware, picture frames, and other gift accessories.

our-history-sideIn 1983, Shields saw a void in the woman’s accessory market and designed a line of travel accessories and cosmetic bags under her new company, Bags and Baggage/Coverdown. As the company grew, it expanded to include top of bed and decorative accents for the home.

Through 1999, Shields and her business partner built Bags and Baggage/Coverdown, complete with their own New York showroom. Their customers included over 3,000 specialty stores worldwide as well as major retailers such as Dayton’s, Marshall Fields, Target, and Land’s End.

As the company expanded, Shields sensed the potential for large-scale growth with private label retailers. In an effort to focus on developing this part of the business, Shields sold the company to Federal Foam Technology (also known as Airtex Consumer Product). While there, Shields partnered with Miller on several projects before Federal Foam Technology decided to move operations out of Minnesota. With significant business and established customers, Shields needed a factory. Miller wanted expertise in design and business growth in a new industry.

Shields’ team specializing in design, retail product development, and account management was the perfect match for Miller’s seasoned team of manufacturing experts.

So it was that in 1999 Miller and Shields joined forces to create The Airtex Group.

Together, Miller, Shields and the entire Airtex team are proud to offer a wide range of unique capabilities to foster long-term partnerships with customers across many different industries.