A Chat with John Murphy

This week we talked to MurCal’s director John Murphy, who has worked here for nearly 62 years and succeeded his parents, who founded the company, when they retired.

Written by
The MurCal Blogster
Published on
August 25, 2022 at 3:37:30 PM PDT August 25, 2022 at 3:37:30 PM PDTth, August 25, 2022 at 3:37:30 PM PDT

1982: John Murphy at the Annual SAE Meeting and Exhibit in Milwaukee is demonstrating his latest microprocessor to Delhomme Industries.

From the beginning, John’s passion was automating engine-driven pumps. Growing up in the family’s company, he remained here throughout his professional career. During the 80s and 90s, as he took over as Director of the company from his father Art, he led the company through a period of great product innovation and grew a thriving custom municipal panel business. 

1982: John discusses the Microprocessor engine controller being used on Waukesha engines in California to Waukesha Motor Division engineers from Waukesha factory.

Q. At what age did you express interest in your parent's business?

A. I basically grew up in the "family business." The business was a part of me for as long as I remember.

Q. What did you love most about it?  

A. I was fascinated by automation - things starting and stopping based on local conditions with nobody around.

Q. When did your family move to Palmdale and in our current location? 

A. The family moved from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Los Alamitos, California in early 1958. This was the beginning of “Murphy Safety Switch of California”. When we grew out of our home's garage, we moved to a larger, separate building in Norwalk, California. By 1965 we had grown out of the Norwalk building and built a new facility in Palmdale, California. By 1999 we had outgrown our first building (after two additions) and built a much larger and versatile building. The new building is located in a business park near the Antelope Valley freeway.

1962: The "Murphy Switch of California" building in Norwalk, California.

Note: The 20,000-square-foot modern facility was completed in 1999 and dedicated to the company founders Art and Essie.

Q. When did you start working full time here?  

A. After high school and some college, I began working full time in approximately 1965. I was married in 1966 and we started a family.

Q. Did you have any other jobs before this one?

A. This was my first job.

Q. What did you do here when you first started?

A. The job initially consisted of: stocking shelves, packing shipments, metal work, sweeping floors, wiring and testing panels. This led into designing controls and supervising installations and troubleshooting at job sites. 

Q. What is your current position/role?

A. I consider myself semi-retired.

Q. Where does your passion for automating engine-driven pumps come from?

A. I became interested in automation by watching and working with my father. I saw him analyze a problem, workout the solution and test the result. This was satisfying to me.

1982: Group photo for the Quarterly Publication "Swichgage". John Murphy in front and second from the left is his father and founder Art.

Q. Through the 80s and 90s you guided the company through a period of great product innovation and built a thriving custom municipal panel business. What drove you? 

A. The interaction with the engineers, engine and pump suppliers and the station operators in the field is very positive. I liked being behind the scenes of the working municipal stations and seeing what many do not get the chance to see or even be aware of their existence. It's all fascinating.

John Murphy, V.P., General Manager, Murphy Safety Switch of California, explains their latest developments in microprocessor-based control systems for municipal water supply, flood control, wastewater disposal, or for any oil field or industrial use. These sophisticated systems are easily programmed to supply - as needed - power from multiple engines. Most functions only require simple SWICHGAGES to send command signals. The latest development of John’s electronic speed control throttlers and Selectronic low and high-speed switches-and their many uses-were discussed with the general assembly as well as in many private conferences. ~As written in “The Swichgage” Vol. XXIII, 1983

Q. Who is your biggest inspiration?

A. My mother. She got married during the depression in the 1930s and lived through many hardships, but she was always positive, kind and happy. She died in 2018 at 105 years of age!

In January 2005, “Murphy Switch of California '' rebranded the company with the name MurCaI and in 2007 John’s son Bob Murphy was promoted to President of MurCal, making him the third generation to lead the company. 

For More on MurCal’s history, CLICK HERE

1995 - From the Murphy Family Album: Left to Right, John Murphy (President/General Manager), Richard Lund (Project Manager) & Bob Murphy (Marketing Manager)

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