The investment research firm Morningstar has named Mark Miller of Stericycle its 2009 CEO of the Year. According to a Morningstar press release, the “award recognizes a chief executive who exhibits exemplary corporate stewardship, demonstrates independent thinking, creates lasting value for shareholders, and has put his or her stamp on an industry.”

Morningstar cited 10-year annualized returns of 28 percent and a customer base that has grown from 12 to 44,000 during Miller’s tenure as factors in his winning the award.

“With such an eclectic group of nominees this year, we're proud to present the award to Mark Miller, whose entrepreneurial spirit and personal sacrifices helped Stericycle become the industry titan it is today,” said Paul Larson, equities strategist and editor of Morningstar StockInvestor, in a press release. “When Miller took over the financially strapped company in 1992 after a 16-year career at Abbott Laboratories, he took a 50 percent pay cut, mortgaged his home, and cashed out his retirement account to keep the firm afloat. Although the company didn't post a material profit for another five years, this difficult start emphasizes the managerial skill Miller exercised to transform the company in a relatively short span of time.”