Harry L. Murphy, Inc.: 70 Years Strong Thanks to Quality Flooring Installation
In 2017, Harry L. Murphy, Inc. of San Jose, Calif., celebrated its 70th anniversary in the flooring industry. During that evening of tributes, memories, and pride, we honored our past while looking forward to a robust future. Together, the Harry L. Murphy, Inc. team is committed to reaching our 100th year in 2047.
Today, the customer list of Harry L. Murphy, Inc. is broad and diversified. We perform work in all segments of the commercial flooring market. Our customers include IBM, Lockheed, Apple, Nvidia, Genentech, Kaiser Hospitals, Stanford Hospital, Stanford University and other local universities, K-12 local school districts, the City of San Jose, and the County of Santa Clara—to name a few. We feel that the quality of our work is our strongest marketing tool as it stimulates repeat business from equity customers and boosts valuable referral business.
As a union company, we have 40 installation technicians regularly supporting our projects and, during busy periods, that number expands to nearly 100 installers. We rely on the union for the necessary training of our crews. However, we are committed to offering the necessary additional training to handle the new materials and installation techniques of our changing industry. Working primarily with the Starnet preferred vendor partner companies, we offer in-house training sessions and send our team to on-site training at the manufacturer. In addition, we have an apprentice program through which new installers can work with union journeymen to sharpen their skills and receive a direct mentoring experience. In fact, two of our longest service employees serve in important training positions in our market: one of them is a past apprentice instructor with the union and now leads our internal training program.
Attracting new installation talent is a challenge. Over the years, we have been fortunate to have family members of current installers join our team. They witnessed firsthand the viability of commercial flooring as a career path with many of them starting and finishing their careers with Harry L. Murphy, Inc. In addition, we encourage the local union to recruit potential talent at local high schools and vocational schools. We believe that we offer a great career opportunity for the right people and we know that our training plan works.
In the sales area, we have a talented team which is well versed in our market and the growing customer base. Some team members manage their projects in a cradle-to-grave process where the salesperson manages all aspects of the project. Conversely, some sales people work more closely with project managers and coordinators who can take ownership of the project earlier in the process.
As with our installation talent, we are focused on attracting strong talent in the sales and project management areas. At times, the economic strength of our market makes our efforts even tougher as we are competing with high income careers vs. commercial flooring. This is especially true being in the Silicon Valley, where salary differentials become obvious even at the internship phase. We have worked very hard to communicate the value and personal satisfaction of the work we do every day in this industry. We believe that we offer a very stimulating career to the right people.
The leadership of our company has evolved over the years. In 1997, Harry L. Murphy decided to sell the 50-year-old company in pursuit of retirement. He sold the business to five employees with more than 200 years of tenure, which ensured the company culture was passed to the next generation of leaders. Since then there have been additional retirements and we have been fortunate to carry on the tradition of recruiting tenured employees into company ownership. In 2008, Conrad Sotelo joined Daryl Stacy and myself on the ownership team. Each of us are very proud of the loyalty and experience of our employees and we look forward to carrying on this succession plan in the future.
Future Growth Plans
Recently, Harry L. Murphy, Inc. was recognized by the San Jose Chamber of Commerce as the longest operating, privately held company in the Santa Clara Valley. We know that our future depends on developing a solid growth plan beyond standard commercial flooring. Our philosophy is not to be the first company to offer a new service or a new market segment. Instead, we strive to move into proven business services which are compatible with our foundation and which meet the needs of our customer base.
For example, we are expanding our investment in polished concrete, which is in demand in multiple market segments including retail, corporate and education. We have projected the revenue value of this service and we recognize that there is a long learning curve to be successful. Regardless, we are increasing our efforts here and are confident that the work will pay off.
Similarly, we are looking at other opportunities like floor care, ceramics and even window coverings. We feel our current team is the strongest team we have ever had at Harry L. Murphy, Inc. and we believe we can challenge them to learn new technical areas. We want to ensure that we move forward with a balance of continuing to support the important current business while expanding their skills for new services.
The Value of Starnet
Harry L. Murphy, Inc. was among the earliest companies to join Starnet Commercial Flooring. In fact, we just missed being a charter member. Because our founder was in the process of selling his share in the business, the leadership team at the time decided to delay joining Starnet until the ownership transition was complete. Finally, Harry L. Murphy, Inc. joined Starnet in 1997.
For our company, the value of Starnet is multi-faceted. I have created many connections within Starnet and the incredible networking and business-building insights are critical. I serve as the co-chairman of the Meetings Committee and on the Member Connect task force. I have made many good friends through this involvement in the organization. I also serve on the Advisory Council, which gives me tremendous insights into the industry and the key players from the manufacturing community. The training programs offered by Starnet have augmented our local training and the monthly webinars truly advance the product knowledge of our team. As we review the various business expansion opportunities, I seek the input and counsel of my fellow Starnet members, which is incredibly invaluable.
On a personal basis, I feel very fortunate to have joined Harry L. Murphy, Inc. so many years ago. This company and, indeed, the commercial flooring industry, have been very good to me and to my family. Some of my good friends are my associates and co-workers. It is with great personal pride that I work every day towards our shared goals.