One of the biggest questions we get asked is about the tie in between MurCal, Murphy, and Enovation Controls. Here is some history.SCHEDULE A CALL
To fully understand the origin of Murphy Switch of California, we have to roll back the clock to the open plains of the post-depression Midwest. During the 1930’s Art’s brother, Frank W. (“Pat”) Murphy, was a sales manager for an Allis Chalmers’ distributor. He found that his customers’ main complaint was “burned up” engines. These engines had poor quality, non-indicating safety switches, which were difficult to test and often inoperative. Pat decided to develop a simpler yet more effective “safety switch”.
His idea was to combine an indicating gauge with a switch that would stop the engine when low oil pressure or high coolant temperature existed. He installed this invention on several unattended oil field engines. Operators loved the design because they could see the operating gauge, adjust the contact to their needs, and test the switch for operation. Pat decided to become a manufacturer when Allis Chalmers declined to buy the switch-gauge design. Production began with Pat and his wife, Rosalie, building the instruments on their kitchen table in Mt. Carmel, Illinois. During the 1940’s Pat’s “Guardian Safety Switch” went into service in the oilfields in Indiana and Illinois. Adaptations allowed the product to protect pipeline pumps as well.
In 1945, Tulsa was home to the booming oil industry, so the Murphy’s moved the business to Oklahoma, into a ‘spacious’ block building. The 1950’s brought stabilization and growth prompted by innovation. The company began serving a new market in West Texas, as irrigation farmers were also losing unattended engines. They developed a magnetic trip switch to adapt the “Safety Switch” to battery ignition and diesel engines. Renamed the “Tattletale®”, this switch featured a push button that stayed out once the switch tripped, indicating the cause of the shutdown.
During this time, Art was working as the general manager for Frank W. Murphy, Mfr. He was also a design engineer and received several patents. One of these was for a semi-automatic lockout on pressure gauges that allowed users to push a button on a gauge while there was no pressure at startup to enable It to build after the pump got going. It would then arm the shutdown automatically when the pressure rose above the lockout. A version of this design is still in production today.
The decade also ushered in the first Murphymatic® control panels as well as the first level regulators. As the 50’s ended, Art packed up his family and moved to the beach in Orange County, California, to start his own company, Murphy Safety Switch of California.
This company served as the exclusive distributor of products for FW Murphy, Mfr. in the seven western United States plus Hawaii, with Alaska joining the territory later.
At first, Art found It challenging to sell the Murphy products on their own. He needed to provide creative and innovative control solutions that integrated the Murphy parts. He required that all his control panel solutions utilize the Murphy pressure, level, temperature, and vibration switch products. Murphy Safety Switch of California fabricated, painted, wired, and delivered these solutions from a garage in Los Alamitos, California.
Before long, the company outgrew the garage. Art and his wife, Essie, moved to the wide-open spaces of the high desert in northern Los Angeles County. Land was cheap, and they loved riding their motorcycles in the desert. In 1965, a new building opened in Palmdale on a small almond orchard. This facility had dedicated office space, warehouse space, and fabrication space. The company brought on a few more employees along with Art’s son, John, whose passion was automating engine-driven pumps.
John grew up in the family business and remained there for his professional career. Through the 80’s and 90’s he guided the company through a period of great product innovation and built a thriving custom municipal panel business. This municipal pump control business sat alongside the distribution portion of the business. The company only sold Murphy products and its own custom controls. In 1991, John’s son, Bob, fresh from graduating from San Diego State University with a Business Management degree, joined the team. Bob had been working various jobs in the company throughout high school and thought the best way to continue to build the company was to bring a business focus. Bob became the point person between FW Murphy and Murphy Switch of California. Bob focused on developing products that FW Murphy asked for and bringing them to fruition through his Oregon-based engineering team. Many of the products designed by this team and manufactured in California were private labeled for FW Murphy and sold as standard catalog items throughout the world.
In January of 2005, Murphy Switch of California split into two entities. The original company continued as a distributor for products in the engine and instrumentation business, while the remainder became Ryeso, an engineering and manufacturing company of industrial control platforms. Bob was President of this new company as well as performing his role at Murphy Switch of California. Murphy Switch of California rebranded the company with the name MurCal so that It was clear that It was a separate company from FW Murphy.
MurCal signed up new partners to complement the FW Murphy product line, such as Trombetta, SENS, and an exhaust gas catalyst company. MurCal also created a service department for on-site installations. Over at Ryeso, new designs and innovations continued to flow. About a year after Ryeso began operating as a separate company, It negotiated an agreement to sell to FW Murphy. The deal closed in September of 2007, and Bob was promoted from Vice President to President of MurCal, making him the third generation to lead the company. Through all of this, the original facility continued to grow with several additions. By the late 1990s, It became evident that a move across town to a purpose-built building was necessary. This 20,000-square-foot modern facility was completed and dedicated to the company founders Art and Essie in 1999.
Enovation Controls And Fw Murphy
Murphy and EControls merged in 2009 to create the new company Enovation Controls. The company grew into a global entity with more than 1,000 employees with sales and manufacturing facilities in North America, China, Europe, and India. In 2016, Sun Hydraulics purchased two Murphy by Enovation Controls business units and the Enovation Controls name. The organization rebranded under the Helios Technologies umbrella with Enovation Controls, Sun Hydraulics, Faster S.R.L., and Balboa Water Group rounding out their portfolio. Enovation Controls is a well-respected and trusted partner to major engine and equipment manufacturers around the world. The remaining two business units, EControls and now FW Murphy Production Controls, continue to serve their customers together as one company. FW Murphy focus remains on its core customer base in the natural gas compression market with quality engine controls and state-of-the-art custom panels, while EControls serves its heavy-duty and light-duty engine customers creating world-class engine controls as well as introducing groundbreaking lithium-ion batteries. The companies continue to grow as EControls acquired IMPCO in 2017.
The MurCal line now includes hundreds of products, which monitor and control engine vital signs: pressure, temperature, level, and overspeed. Products range from simple start/stop operations to sophisticated automation systems. MurCal’s product portfolio now includes related engine control products. Air-fuel ratio controls, ignition systems, actuation and throttle control mechanisms, catalysts and replacement elements, particulate filters, DC contactors, and engine start battery chargers complement our full line of FW Murphy / Enovation Controls instrumentation and control products.
Looking To The Future
As we look toward the future, we’d like to take just a moment to thank you for continuing to turn to us for your instrumentation and control needs. With more than 63 years under our belt, you don’t have to worry about whether or not we’ll be around next year. We are confident in our products and in our ability to deliver on our promises.
We look forward to strengthening our business and personal relationships and to many years of continued success. Once again, your friends at MurCal thank you for making the journey with us.