IIAR Remembers


Roger was born in Missoula, Montana, to Jerry and Gwen McMillan. He spent his early childhood in Spokane, Washington, and then Jerry and Gwen relocated their dry-cleaning business to Colville, Washington, where Jerry invented specialized laundry machines and started the Colmac businesses.

After Roger earned a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1966 at Washington State University, he spent two years in the US Army as a 2nd and 1st Lieutenant in the Ordinance Corps stationed at Ft Dix, NJ. Roger and his wife, Dee, returned to Colville, where Roger started working in engineering and product development at Colmac Industries.

Through the years, Colmac earned a reputation for using technology to propel its business forward, and Roger was at the center of that development. Since laundry machines are tough on coils and regular HVAC coils were not holding up, Jerry McMillan decided to build his own. He asked Roger to design a building, and within a year, Colmac Coil Manufacturing was building coils in a new 10,000 sq. ft. plant across the street from Colmac Industries.

In less than 20 years, the new company surpassed Colmac Industries in size. In 2007, Colmac Coil won the Washington State World Trade Club’s “Emerging Trader of the Year” award, over 40 years after Jerry won the same (later renamed) award.

Roger was only 32 at the time of Jerry McMillan’s passing, and with no succession plan in place, Colmac managers and employees kept moving forward.

From 1974 to 2002, Roger led Colmac Industries and Colmac Coil as CEO and Owner. During this time, Colmac Coil Manufacturing grew from a small manufacturer of steam coils to a much larger company with a product portfolio including heating and cooling coils, heat pipe coils, dry coolers and condensers, and industrial air coolers.

Under Roger’s leadership, Colmac Coil Manufacturing developed its ability to engineer a wide range of heating and cooling solutions for the commercial and industrial markets.

“In 1981, Roger took a chance hiring a young engineer (yours truly), recently graduated from his Alma Mater, Washington State University,” said Bruce Nelson, past president of Colmac Coil Manufacturing. “I quickly learned that Roger, like his father Jerry McMillan, loved to innovate and develop new products and then to travel to where the customers were to sell them – wherever that might be in the world. I feel very grateful to have worked first for Roger, and then Scott, for 40 years of my working life getting to do those very things.”

“I have many good memories of my interactions with Roger, talking about new products and markets, and some amazing travel experiences with him. I also appreciated my personal interactions with Roger and his concern for the well-being of all of us as Colmac employees.”

“When he first arrived in 1969, there wasn’t a single drawing for any product,” said Scott McMillan, CEO and owner of Colmac Coil Manufacturing. “He built a new team of drafters and later brought in computer-aided drafting and CNC machinery to modernize both businesses and develop the first “CoilPro” software sizing and selection models beginning in 1981.”

After passing the executive management responsibilities to his son, Scott McMillan, in 2002, Roger was continually active in his church life and also golf and hiking while spending his summers in Colville and winters in Palm Desert, California.

“Roger occasionally stopped by the Colmac Coil factories to see the latest and greatest products on the manufacturing floor and to discuss what next products we were developing,” said Joe Fazzari, President of Colmac Coil Manufacturing. “All of us will greatly miss Roger’s presence, but his legacy will live on with every shipment of the high quality, engineered-to-order products we produce.”