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Former Carbon resident honored as small business leader of the year

Stander President Jan Miller demonstrates how their bed railing works Thursday September 2008 in Logan. Miller was recently named Utah Small Business Person of the Year by Small Business Administration.

Logan Herald Journal feature writer

Many companies in Cache Valley and beyond are facing cutbacks, but one local business expects to double in size.

Stander Inc. of Logan, which manufactures and markets products for people with limited mobility, will soon add to its current total of eight employees and move into a new warehouse and office in Providence.

Stander's success has caught the attention of business leaders around the state, and company president Jan Lee Miller was recently named Utah Small Business Person of the Year by the Small Business Administration.

"It's a real honor," Miller said. "I attribute this award to all the great services available to me in Cache Valley as I started up my business."

Specifically, Miller mentioned the Small Business Development Center at Utah State University and officials with Bridgerland Applied Technology College. She said without their support she wouldn't have been able to successfully launch her company, which she did 11 years ago with her own money.

Stander now offers more than two dozen products for use in bedrooms, bathrooms, couches and automobiles, including such new releases as the Assist-a-Tray, the Metro Car Handle Plus and the Metro Travel Walker. Miller's husband Troy, a mechanical engineer, designs the parts, and Stander puts out five to 10 original products each year. Among the latest releases is the travel walker, which weighs only six pounds and folds down to the size of a baby stroller.

"It's very portable," Miller said, adding that the Metro Travel Walker is the smallest on the market. "We're really excited about that one."

Thanks to that steady influx of new items, and the fact that all the devices are priced under $200, Miller said the company has been experiencing annual sales increases of 40 percent.

"Our goal is to produce low-cost, assistive devices," noted the former elementary school teacher, adding that Stander has "a broad base of customers."

To reach their international customers, the Millers sell to distributors and wholesalers both in storefronts and online or in catalogs.

Stander products can be found at Cache Valley Oxygen and other medical supply stores and online through retailers like Wal-Mart, Costco and Target. Stander Inc. was last year singled out as one of the Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies in state by Utah Business Magazine.

Miller and several other business people were saluted at an awards luncheon May 4 at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City.

She also traveled to Washington, D.C. on May 17 for the National Small Business Week. She didn't know at the time that she would convene with the President of the United States of America.

"Because of security concerns, we didn't know we would see Obama until the day of the event," Miller said.

Meeting with other small business award winners as well as national leaders of major companies was a great experience, Miller said, but the highlight was meeting with Obama and his economic advisor, Larry Summers.

"The best part was the experience of hearing the President speak about the importance of small businesses and honoring small businesses," Miller said.

Miller grew up in Carbon County and is a 1980 graduate of Carbon High School.

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