Sean and Chris Murphy started out in 1979, just two brothers working side by side as a family. Now, nearly 35 years later, Murphy Brothers Contracting employs 45 people, and, though only a few are Murphys by name or by blood, all are members of the Murphy Brothers family, as the recession of the last few years has proved.
“The recession hit everybody, and hit us pretty hard,” Sean Murphy says. But not a single employee was laid off. “It showed our dedication to them. And when things came back a little, they showed their dedication to us,” he says.
Many of the employees have been with the Murphys for more than 20 years. And the mutual loyalty has provided a continuity that has helped double revenues over the last two years and produces a steady increase in high-profile work.
Among its many other jobs, the company is finishing work at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck on a men’s locker room and swimming pool complex and is busy at Shenorock Shore Club in Rye repairing cabanas destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
Those kinds of jobs, along with jaw-droppingly beautiful residential and commercial projects shown on the Murphy Brothers website, are a far cry from their humble beginnings.
Chris had already been doing carpentry, following in their grandfather’s footsteps, and Sean was unhappy in his career as an electrical engineer. “I didn’t want to sit behind a desk anymore,” he says.
So together, they got their first job, a $300 exterior paint-and-trim project for an elderly client in Mamaroneck. “We started doing a lot of bath
remodels, kitchen remodels, and whole-house remodels and just created the business that way,” Murphy recalls. The needs of those fledgling days included stacking supplies in the backyard of their parents’ house in Larchmont, where they grew up and where their mother has lived for 57 years.
In the past year, Murphy Brothers has increased its workforce by 40 percent and typically has 15 projects going at any given time, says Murphy.
To complete those projects across Westchester and southern Fairfield County, Connecticut, Murphy Brothers relies on a trusted army of subcontractors. “We have subcontractors who have been working for us for 20, 25 years,” Murphy says. “A lot of them almost strictly work for us.” When you factor in those regulars, the work of Murphy Brothers supports between 200 and 300 local jobs, a great source of pride to the brothers.
One longtime local supplier is Shelly Kahan, CEO of Interstate + Lakeland Lumber in Greenwich, Connecticut. Kahan has worked there for 35 years, beginning right out of college, about the time the Murphys were starting up.
“After 30 years of doing business with Sean and Chris, it seems like we’ve basically all grown up together,” Kahan says, adding that business and personal relationships have intertwined. “I know about their kids, they know about my kids,” Kahan says. “We have a lot of customers,” he says, “but we have very few great customers who are also great friends.”
» For more Small Business Award Winners, click here.