The Man Behind Miller Boat Line

Get a sneak peek at island life from Billy Market, co-owner of Miller Boat Line.

For a half-century, Billy Market has been working on the Miller Boat Line ( and ferrying fun-seekers to Put-in-Bay. Market started picking up trash and mowing grass as a kid. Like his father, William, who started at the company in 1947 and bought it with his wife, Mary Ann, in 1976, Market worked his way up. Today, at 61, he’s the general manager and co-owner with his brother, Scott, and his sister, Julene. 

His Start
Market graduated to working in the ticket booth and then started as a deck hand when he was 17. He got his captain’s license when he was 19 and filled in on crews until he was 24. “Then I started taking over the day-to-day operations.”

All in the Family
There’s a third generation working on the ferry line. “My nephew Jake, he’s pretty much in charge of the new vessel construction. My daughter, Caitlin, has taken over office responsibilities. We’re loosening the leash now. Maybe not as much as they want, but they’re getting their feet wet pretty quick.”

Busy Season
One of the things Billy does is make sure the fleet is properly crewed and moving. With five vessels and 120 employees in season, that’s not always easy. “There are some days where we’ll run up to 45 trips trying to keep up with demand and, if everyone shows up in the proper spot, it makes me look really good.”

Island Life
Billy, who lives on South Bass Island, says the peak season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but the season can run from St. Patrick’s Day to New Year’s Day. “I haven’t golfed nearly as much as I’d like to,” he says. “I still play softball on the islands a couple days a week. We have a poker group on Thursday night.”

Always On
“Everyone’s worked so hard for the majority of the year that you look forward to some time off but, when you’re shut down, we’re making plans to do all the things that you couldn’t do in season. I’ve got a honey-do list that’s about an arm’s length.”