A native of Medford, Mass. (greater Boston), Mike Murphy’s dad worked as a policeman and his mom worked for John Hancock Insurance. Murphy earned a degree in business and economics at Westfield State University. But back in high school is where the young man truly began his career in construction, working at commercial roofing company, which is what he did throughout his college years.
“That helped me decide I wanted a career in building and construction,” Murphy says.
But truly his career trajectory changed when he began his career at Dryvit in 1983 in direct sales selling and promoting the company’s EIFS to architects, general contractors and installers. Murphy says his most important responsibility was to educate the design community on the virtues of energy efficient buildings.
Murphy retired just before summer and Walls & Ceilings was able to catch up with him to talk about his life in the EIFS world and beyond.
W&C: How have you seen EIFS change over the years?
There has been great change in the industry over the years. We went from a small cottage industry to being one of the most used cladding systems in commercial and residential construction. We have air and weather barriers, flashings and continuous insulation for greater energy efficiency. The systems are much more robust than when we first started in 1969.
W&C: What are some of your highlights with the company?
I think the greatest highlights of working at Dryvit were centered on the great people, employees, distributors and contractor customers. I also had the opportunity to work with Frank Morsilli, the founder of Dryvit and the founder of the EIFS industry here in North America, as well as Pete Balint, former president (see our Face to Face with Balint in W&C, May 2015) and a great mentor of mine. Both men and many others were very influential in my career. Celebrating our 50th year in business was also very special. We have so many distributors and contractors to thank for supporting us; we would have never accomplished the acceptance in the industry without that support.
W&C: Tell us about what product or line Dryvit has produced that you are most excited about?
I’m very excited about the great opportunity our Tech 21 panelization program has to offer. With the demand on labor, pre-fab is going to be very important in getting future buildings built. Also, I am excited about our NewBrick product, which provides a modern approach to building affordable, energy efficient brick buildings. I’m excited about the entire industry.
We have the practical solution to many issues or challenges contractors have building economical, energy efficient, long lasting new structures as well as renovating old energy inefficient buildings.
W&C: What are the differences between running a company during the good times vs. the bad times?
Good times are obviously less stressful than bad times but the key to being successful is to always remember what your company values are and sticking to those core values in good times and bad. Success can mean a lot of things, but the most successful companies will always have happy employees that feel like they have a purpose and contribute to the overall success of the company as well as having a customer first attitude regardless of the economic climate.
W&C: What does Dryvit mean to you?
Dryvit is like family to me. It’s been a big part of my life. I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work here with so many dedicated people and play a role in moving forward this great industry. I feel like we were always on a mission, and that’s fun and a great motivator. Let’s just say I’m one of the lucky people that never felt like going to work was work at all; I just loved it.
W&C: As head of the company, what were your responsibilities?
I was responsible for our overall success by developing the long- and short-term strategy, creating and implementing our vision and what our main mission was for continuous improvement. Never very difficult with all the talented past and present Dryvit employees, distributors and customers.
W&C: Relationships are key to the EIFS business: Where has this position taken you?
Relationships are key in any business, but yes maybe more important in a little big industry like EIFS. The people you meet all have the passion for the product and the passion to see the industry succeed, which is very important when trying to educate people on our value statement. For me, this position has allowed me the opportunity to meet people that have become close friends all around the world.
W&C: Do you see EIFS as a U.S./North American or an international system?
Our systems are used worldwide and have for more than 50 years. In fact, more of these systems are used around the world than in North America. I believe that we will see continued growth in NA as we become more committed to the environment and the importance of building buildings with reduced energy consumption in mind. Let’s not forget the thousands of old buildings that need to come up to date on the new energy code requirements. In fact, EIFS were designed in Europe for just that—to insulate old concrete buildings due to the high cost of heating and cooling.
W&C: What are you most proud of during your tenure with Dryvit?
I’m proud that we have been able to maintain our leadership role in the industry with continuous improvement and a strong commitment to R&D. Our industry needs innovation to go forward, and I know we have been very successful finding new designs and products that increase market share potential and create more opportunity for everyone in the industry.
W&C: Who will be your successor?
It’s a very exciting time for Dryvit to merge with other RPM companies to form the Tremco Construction Products Group. This new CPG will be led by Chuck Houk, formerly President of Tremco Sealants, now as President of the newly-formed group.
W&C: You are leaving during very different times than before. What is your advice to the industry/your successor at Dryvit?
It is a very different time, with the business climate changing almost daily as we work through the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other socioeconomic challenges facing our industry. My advice is to continue to believe in what we do and stay committed to that. We are doing a lot of things right and provide real, practical, affordable solutions. And to keep on innovating!
W&C: What does retirement hold for you? What are your plans?
My retirement plans short term are to enjoy my family and friends and to relax. Long term, I’m sure I will get involved with some local or national charitable causes. If that sounds boring, then I’m off to a good start!