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    Murphy Co.: A Strategy of Sustainability

    July 1, 2020
    During the stay-at-home orders, the Murphy Co. team took on work with its health-care partners in preparation for the necessary capacity in the hospitals

    ST. LOUIS, MO — Mechanical contracting firm Murphy Co., headquartered in St. Louis, has four additional locations in Colorado: Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver and Fort Collins. Patrick J. Murphy Jr. is the fourth-generation owner of the 113-year-old firm started by his great-grandfather.

    Murphy, who has bachelor’s degrees in finance and business economics, took over as president and CEO in 2004. And while he helmed the company through the Great Recession of 2008-2009, it was nothing compared to what the entire nation is enduring now with the COVID-19 global pandemic.

    “We are following the advice of the CDC and our government officials,” he says. “We have avoided speculating on all the ‘what if’s’ as it can be distracting and add little value to the organization. Financially, we have been building a very strong balance sheet through excellent execution over the last several years and proactive cash management.” 

    'After we get through the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be a better company. We have adapted to ever-changing conditions. We learned new skills which will allow the organization to continue to grow its capabilities, quality of services and create new opportunities for our people to provide increased value to our customers.' — Patrick J. Murphy

    For Murphy Co., technology is critical to the continued operation of the five branches. “Our technology investments over the years are paying enormous dividends as more than 90 percent of our team is working remotely,” Murphy explains. “We have been overcommunicating with our craft and staff and utilizing a weekly video to add a personal touch to our information planning.” 
    For staff needing to be in the office, they are practicing social distancing and the cleaning team is continuously cleaning surfaces and high-touch areas, he adds.
    During the stay-at-home orders, the Murphy Co. team took on work with its health-care partners in preparation for the necessary capacity in the hospitals. At the St. Joseph Hospital in St. Louis, team members figured out a way to install temporary ductwork along the building to turn ordinary hospital rooms into negative-pressure rooms. The ventilation in these rooms allows air in but not out, keeping any contaminated air inside the rooms. 

    As the COVID-19 virus is transmitted through droplets from coughing or sneezing, this ventilation method is thought to reduce the spread of the disease in hospitals or other health-care settings. Murphy Co. designed a system where the ductwork is fed through a window in the room, with HEPA filtration located on the roof.

    Murphy Co. converted rooms at two other hospitals—St. Anthony North Health Campus in Westminster, Colo., and the SSM Health DePaul Hospital in Bridgeton, Mo.—into negative-pressure rooms. Each project had different design challenges, but pre-fabrication methods and quick installation met the needs of the health-care institutions. 

    Concerned about the safety of jobsite crews, Murphy Co. designed its
    own portable handwashing stations, an idea generated by Vice President Scott McIntosh. Several prototypes were created by the Denver fabrication shop. Drawings were shared with the St. Louis shop, which used the materials available to it to create iterations of the rectangular and round sinks. 

    Both Colorado and Missouri have started to cautiously open up more businesses in their states. Colorado ended its more restrictive orders on April 27, and Missouri’s order expired May 4. 

    “With regard to bringing our employees back to the offices, we will follow the guidelines of the CDC and our local officials,” Murphy says. “We are reviewing the specific adjacencies, staffing requirements and spacing to minimize the potential spread of the virus.”

    He is quick to point out that his family’s company resiliency as it has withstood much over its century-plus history 

    “Our overall company strategy is built upon sustainability,” Murphy explains. “During the last 113 years, our company has survived through many crises—Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, two world wars, the Korean War, Vietnam, recessions, 9/11, and the most recent Great Recession.

    “After we get through the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be a better company. We have adapted to ever-changing conditions. We learned new skills which will allow the organization to continue to grow its capabilities, quality of services and create new opportunities for our people to provide increased value to our customers. Because of the outstanding members of our team, we will not only survive the challenging times, but also thrive in the good times.”