Volume 34, Number 11,  November 1999

WILD about Harry

Harry Miles Had Fans Long Before He Entered the Hall of Fame

When USGlass magazine announced that Harry Miles would be a 1999 Inductee into the Glass and Metal Hall of Fame™, the wires lit up and mail started coming. The magazine received a number of testaments to his good work, negotiation skills and willingness to help others learn about the glass industry.
Miles, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame on October 22, elicits admiration from colleagues and friends. In his career, Miles was devoted to the mechanics and engineering of glass and still revels at its properties as a material.

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The son of a newspaperman, Miles was born in San Diego. His father’s job kept the family on the move until Miles enrolled in college. In 1946, he chose to attend the University of Illinois. “It was one of the few good engineering schools still accepting students from out of state,” he says. Miles met his wife Jan there while working on the school newspaper. He graduated with a major in general engineering and entered the Navy where he served at a variety of places during the next three years.
When he got out of the Navy in 1954, he went looking for a job and found one at what was then the Blue Ridge Glass Corporation (BRGC). BRGC was a small company jointly owned by San Gobain and Corning, which eventually evolved into the AFG Industries of today.

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Miles started as an engineering foreman and worked in a variety of jobs. “The company kept giving me areas to fix or the problems to solve, so I did,” he says, “and I have the scars to prove it!” Eventually he settled in the technical services area, where he worked for 15 years until his retirement from AFG in 1989.
“When I started my consulting business, Harry never failed to find time to read my documents, make comments and suggestions and recommend me for consulting projects,” says Valerie Block, a glass industry consultant. “That’s more than a colleague, that’s a friend.
“When Harry left AFG, it seems he threw away his ties and suits. I can still picture him in his typical meeting attire—slacks, short sleeve golf shirt and suspenders. But don’t be fooled by his casual dress. Harry was all business when work had to get done. He was a leader who knows how to negotiate sticky situations with great diplomacy and humor,” she adds.
“Over some 25 plus years, it has been my privilege to consider Harry as a colleague in the glass engineer fraternity—a teacher, a friend,” says Bob Brown of Virginia Glass. “I’ve found his insight and abilities could always enlighten me, and his judgement and guidance to be prudent and sound.”

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But Miles is perhaps best known for the work he has done as a consultant for the Glass Tempering Association and then the Glass Association of North America for the past ten years.
During those ten years, he was in the middle of some of the biggest—and most challenging—discussions in the industry. He was known as an expert technician with knowledge beyond reproach and a skilled negotiator able to forge compromise when others thought it was not possible. As one participant said “we always knew we’d get the plain facts from Harry Miles.” “Harry will certainly be missed at GANA meetings,” said the association’s executive director Bill Birch. “He helped keep us all on track.”
In fact, Miles behavior at such meetings is the stuff of legend. As the recent GANA newsletter said: “It’s hard to imagine the glass industry without Harry Miles to advise, cajole, admonish and encourage all those involved in day-to-day technical trench work … His experience and technical expertise have permitted him to serve variously as the industry’s conscience on some issues, its voice of reason on others.
“For many of us, the meeting experience was not complete until Harry’s facial color had run the gamut from a natural pink, for minor digressions from the intended discussions, to bright red while waiting to respond to silly or just plain uninformed suggestions or proposals …
“It is difficult, if not impossible, to calculate the influence any one individual has had on an association or industry, but most GANA members agree that his fine hand is evident in much of our technical information and will serve as an enduring reminder of his commitment ...”
wpe1B.jpg (87626 bytes)Miles surrounded by family.


Copyright 1999 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.