New Untold Story of Legend that Saved Cummins Engine Co.

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Charles Rentschler shares the inspiring story of J. Irwin Miller who kept Cummins alive

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As much as Miller hoped to improve society at large he cared just as much about keeping his company, staff and community strong as well.

J. Irwin Miller was an industrialist, churchman and avid philanthropist who ran his family’s lead business, Cummins Engine Co., from 1950-1977 and remained a board member until 2000. Miller’s family imbued in him a love for Christ and zeal for capitalism that were compatible in that it is was fine to make lots of money if you gave away lots of money.

Author Charles E. Mitchell Rentschler sifted through 554 boxes of archived material donated by Miller’s children to the Indiana Historical Society and interviewed more than 80 people to create the first-ever biography of J. Irwin Miller, “The Cathedral Builder.”

Miller’s business savvy led him to assigning strong executives to run the various family businesses, hire bright assistants to do staff work and utilize fast corporate planes allowing him to dedicate large amounts of time to philanthropic endeavors. The most important pro-bono effort to Miller was his work with his alma mater, Yale University, where he led the "Corporation" (its board-of-directors) to admit minorities and women in the 1960s. He also worked with the Ford Foundation to help shift their aim to advancing the lives of people of color. His endeavors for the civil rights movement were so powerful that Martin Luther King, Jr. said he did more for the movement than any other white person.

As much as Miller hoped to improve society at large he cared just as much about keeping his company, staff and community strong as well. In the 1980s Cummins fell into financial straits threatening its survival. Miller, 80 at the time, reinvested 60 percent of his entire family’s worth into the company even though he would likely not see the fruits of his efforts. This provided him the epithet “The Cathedral Builder” after the 13th-century workers erecting Mont Saint Michel that would not see a finished structure until they looked down from heaven.

“The Cathedral Builder: A Biography of J. Irwin Miller” shares these insights and many more on the fascinating life of a generous and brilliant auto executive.

“The Cathedral Builder: A Biography of J. Irwin Miller”
By: Charles E. Mitchell Rentschler
SC-ISBN: 978-1-4969-5630-1
SC-Retail price: $16.95
Available at, and

About the author
Charlie Rentschler graduated in 1961 from Princeton University, where he was managing editor of The Daily Princetonian. He earned his MBA from Harvard University in 1964. He served six years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. After 12 years as a machinery analyst with Wertheim & Co., management consultant with McKinsey & Co. and production manager with Simonds Saw & Steel, Rentschler joined Cummins Engine in 1976. He worked in manufacturing positions in Columbus, IN. for almost 10 years. Rentschler left in 1986 to salvage from bankruptcy The Hamilton Foundry & Machine Co., started by his grandfather a century earlier. He built the business from two locations to five with over 600 employees and grew their operating profits for 15 straight years. Rentschler returned to researching machinery companies, including Cummins, from 2001 until 2011 when he began work on J. Irwin Miller’s biography.


EDITORS: For review copies or interview requests, contact:
Spencer Hotz | 317.602.7137| shotz(at)bohlsengroup(dot)com
(When requesting a review copy, please provide street address.)

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Spencer Hotz
Bohlsen Group
+1 317-602-7137
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Spencer Hotz