To fully understand the values that define the Murphy family of businesses we need to start at the beginning. My father, Gary Wayne Murphy, Sr was a child of the South, born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana where he met his high school sweetheart and eventual wife, Chris Telschow. After finishing high school, Gary began working at a factory painting chainsaws. On September 4, 1971 Gary and Chris got married. Later that summer Ray Telschow Sr., Gary’s father-in-law, took a job at Globe Roofing in Whiting, Indiana. Gary and Chris soon followed by moving to Northwest Indiana, with hope of a better job and to keep his young bride near her family.
Gary was in his early 20’s, but his commitment to hard work was quickly recognized as he earned a promotion into a management position. Despite this early professional advancement, my dad had an itch to do better for himself and his young family. Gary was presented an opportunity to go to work for someone in the railroad salvage business and he accepted the position. In his new job, he would look for opportunities to purchase freight damaged materials and resell them. The products could literally be anything from building materials to plastic bottle caps and sugar – yes, these are real examples.
It didn’t take long for Gary to realize that he could start a business and do this himself. By now, my dad was still only in his mid-20’s and didn’t have much money to his name; however, he found a niche with roofing materials. Each morning he would pick up a moving truck from a local rental company, then go hand load off-spec and surplus roofing materials from the factory. Once the truck was fully loaded, he would go out and find customers to sell the material. My dad was basically a one-man-band at this point playing the role of laborer, delivery driver, salesman, bookkeeper and CEO. As the business grew, he began renting space to store materials and expand the operation.
By 1980 business had expanded to the point that Gary decided it was time to purchase property and officially form GW Murphy Inc. At the age of 29, my dad purchased his first location, an old Amoco building in the Calumet College complex in Hammond, Indiana. It was a huge investment financially for his young business. It was an acre of land and had over 10,000 square feet of warehouse space.
The new location was called Ray’s Discount Outlet. While the primary business was selling roofing, he also sold anything from food to paint and toys. If Gary saw enough margin to make money on it, he’d give it a try.
While things were going good, occasionally a customer wouldn’t pay his bill on time. One such situation led to Gary acquiring the other man’s business, a place called Bargain Bob’s Discount Outlet in Portage, Indiana.
Gary had quickly gone from nothing, to being the young owner of two businesses, but he still wasn’t satisfied. He developed a plan to increase sales by growing the roofing division beyond residential shingles into other categories like commercial roofing products. In time, the company outgrew the small offices of the warehouse and were now operating out of a doublewide trailer. It was around this time that we started moving large volumes of material to wholesale customers by the truckload (2-step distribution). The company started to carve out it’s own niche in the distribution of roofing materials with a unique customer base.
By 1990, Gary Murphy had firmly established his business as a discount roofing supplier in Chicagoland, and as a wholesale roofing supplier in the Midwest. He had 2 of his own delivery trucks and was selling nearly 500 semi-loads of material using common carrier.
At that time, Bob Marshall and Ray Telschow Jr were managing most of our large volume sales. Apparently, God had different plans for both men. By 1992, they had both gone into full-time ministry. Gary Sr supported their decision, and allowed them both to continue to work part-time in sales while pursuing their ministry opportunities. In the mid-90’s my brother-in-law, Drue McCollum and I joined the family business.
After the loss of a key-vendor in 1996, we began scrambling for a solution to our material shortages. Supply was low and demand was increasing, so we had to innovate. GW Murphy began purchasing material nationwide and even started importing material from international manufacturers. My dad was determined to not allow what at first was viewed as a significant obstacle to deter the growth of the company. While it was certainly a difficult time, the business continued growing because of the collective resolve and innovation of our entire staff.
The next significant change came around 2000 when the city of Hammond wanted to convert our property into part of a golf course. While the purchase was beyond our control, it came at a great time. GW Murphy had outgrown its facility and we were having to rent space at other locations. One of the spaces we were renting was 920 E. 150th Street, Hammond, Indiana. In 2001, this property was officially purchased and we relocated the business to the address which remains our corporate headquarters today.
It was a huge year for us beyond the new location. An old friend, and new employee, Don Noworyta proposed to Gary the idea of starting a private labeled roofing supply company. Gary jumped at the idea and started private labeling material. Also, that fall, Gary was presented the opportunity to purchase a company that belonged to one of his first customers, a company very dear to his heart. Gary closed on that property on September 13, 2001, just 2 days after the horrific 9/11 attacks.
In 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, including the city of New Orleans in Gary Sr’s home state and the Mississippi coastline. Recognizing the overwhelming need for materials we tried selling materials into that region. We soon realized that many of the building suppliers were either out of business due to catastrophic damage or they were too busy dealing with their customers to take our calls. Ultimately, we opened a new location in August of 2006 in New Orleans.
As business grew in the South, high freight rates made it difficult to transport materials from our Midwest operations center. The decision was made to expand with the addition of a distribution center in the South. At first, we looked at expanding our New Orleans operation, but eventually found a fantastic facility in Biloxi, Mississippi. This location is just a few blocks from the beach and less than 90 miles to New Orleans.
GW Murphy began distributing materials out of the Biloxi facility in 2012, and in 2014, started doing sales out of the facility. Getting the facility up and off the ground took significant time and required a lot of travel by the Murphy’s. During the process, Gary Sr and Chris frequently reminisced about their early years in the South and absolutely fell in love with the Mississippi coast. Recently they made the transition from the Chicagoland area back to the South, where it all began. They purchased a home in Biloxi, where they spend most of their time, and my dad now works out of our Biloxi branch office.
As you can see, God has truly blessed my father’s businesses throughout the years. One major way He has done this is by providing us excellent, long-term employees that share our values. GW Murphy wouldn’t be what it is today, if it was not for God’s continued blessings and for the people that have committed so many years to the Murphy family of businesses.
Gary Murphy, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer