trade partners

Ep.87: Rising from the Ashes with John Murphy

We all occasionally think about the worst that could happen, like a disaster befalling your business or family. The kinds of thoughts that creep into your brain in the wee hours of the morning, that prompt you to think about how you might handle it. Luckily, for most of us, those imagined catastrophes never materialize.

For John Murphy, though, that nightmarish scenario came true when a building fire broke out in his office/warehouse and shop that housed the company’s paint and fine finishing division. The fire destroyed the building and nearly all of its contents. 

In this episode, John tells Tim and Steve the story of the fire, the immediate aftermath, and how his business survived.

John started Murphy Bros. Design | Build | Remodel in Minneapolis, MN, in 1983, just over a year after he graduated from college in 1981. John had worked part-time in construction starting in high school, and thought his degree was the ticket out of hard physical work. He started his new career in life and annuity insurance sales. After a year, he’d made only about half of what he’d earned as a carpenter. He was married with a new baby. Rather than ask for his job back, he decided to go it alone. The company was first named John Murphy Builders but became Murphy Bros. about a decade later — John’s brothers had joined the business. He says he’s still not sure his degree paid off, but he hung up his tool belt around 1997, and promoted himself to an office job.

Early on the morning of May 23 — the business’s anniversary date — John’s phone lit up in the kitchen. He heard it from his the bedroom, but didn’t answer it until it started ringing again a few minutes later. Picking up, he learned only that there was a fire at the business. He jumped in his truck, got to the office and saw all the emergency vehicles and their flashing lights. He says at first glance it didn’t look terrible from the front. The damage was immense, however. This wasn’t the only thing on his mind, either. His brother had been battling lung cancer, and died only days after the fire. John talks about how he handled it all emotionally and professionally in the short term and beyond, including:

  • Assessing priorities after the fire
  • The benefit of having strong community relationships 
  • How he and the company dealt with jobs in progress
  • The help offered by other remodelers
  • Keeping the business going forward
  • The benefits of having a second office and showroom location
  • Maintaining their public image
  • Why proper record keeping (and storage) is necessary
  • Making the company leaner, stronger, and better
  • Dealing with insurance companies
  • And more …

To help disaster-proof your business, John recommends storing your records and operating in the cloud, an annual detailed review of your insurance policies with your agent, and taking safety training seriously. Here’s the link to the security video of the fire on the Murphy Bros. blog.

Ep.80: Evaluating Trade Partners with Joe Divel

We talk about working with trade partners and subcontractors a lot around here. It can be a complicated and challenging relationship — too often it’s like you can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them.

Part of any relationship is change, and adjusting to those changes to keep it fresh and healthy. To keep track of those fluctuations, you need to evaluate how you’re working together.

In this episode, Joe Divel talks about trade partner evaluations with Tim and Steve, how they can keep work relationships solid for all parties, and head off problems before they start.

Joe has been with Case Design Remodeling Inc. in the Washington, DC, metro area for 21 years, wearing many hats during that time, mostly in the production area. Currently, as the senior director of recruitment, alliances, and logistics, he helps production by managing the company’s alliances, tracking job completion, and managing field support and safety.

At Case, they refer to how they work with trade partners or subcontractors as an alliance — Joe says that word choice reflects the respect they have for the firms they work with. He talks about how to start and maintain your own evaluation tools and what it can do for your company, no matter what you may call your subcontractors, including:

  • On-boarding new partners
  • What should be evaluated
  • Who you should survey
  • How often to assess the partnership
  • The red flags to look for
  • Sharing the results with partners
  • How to address problems
  • Learning how you can help them
  • And more …

Including why the company checks on proof of insurance from partners, and how much coverage your own firm should carry.

Keeping up with Tim Faller…

Every month, Tim shares personal and professional tips and advice, and some great stories of his adventures out on the Road. “From the Field” is Tim’s monthly Newsletter and is publishing this Thursday… if you aren’t already subscribed, Click here to Jump on Board.  

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