Britt Murphey is trying to retire. But he's just having too much fun.
The owner, CEO and president of B&B Molders LLC turned 69 on Christmas. He is now an official resident of Florida. His son, Brad, who has been with the Mishawaka, Ind.-based company 15 years, became vice president and general manager Jan. 5 and is responsible for all manufacturing.
After leading his company for 30 years, Britt Murphey has everything in place for his getaway.
“But this is the wrong time of my life for this to be happening,” he said, laughing, in a recent phone interview from Sarasota, Fla. “We've developed proprietary products. We're doing things we've never done before. It's not as boring as it used to be!
“It's too much fun. Absolutely f-u-n.”
B&B injection molds components for diverse markets including recreational vehicles, defense/aerospace, electrical, medical, consumer goods and office furniture. In November, the company developed a proprietary RV water-management system. B&B also manufactures molds.
The growing firm created 10 positions last year, bringing its total staff to about 85, and generates annual sales of about $14 million. B&B is now up to 16 presses, with clamping forces of 30-504 tons.
B&B rose from No. 6 on the Plastics News Best Places to Work ranking last year to No. 2 this year. His staff apparently is happy — but tired, in a good way, he said.
After a 14-week “mini-MBA” training course, “We've been through the mill,” Murphey said. Nine managers were divided into three-member teams. Each team was given a shoe company to run on paper, and had to compete globally. Team members learned about managing inventory, controlling costs, scheduling, manufacturing — “everything a business needs to be successful,” Murphey said.
The program was such a success, he said, he decided to run the plant-floor people through the same training.
Training has always been a big deal at B&B. This deal cost the company more than $52,000.
“It was worth it,” Murphey said. “These are the people who are going to lead the company. It was so gratifying and I'm kicking myself in the seat of the pants for not starting it years ago. I think we hit one out of the park.
“When we talk about our mission, it doesn't mean much to them if they're not involved. Now they're involved, they feel a part of it. Everyone's keeping scorecards on what's most important in their departments.”
B&B also used Kolbe personality profiles, which are designed to help identify a person's attitudes, feelings, preferences and values.
“Everybody shared their personal results with me and at that point, I allowed them to explain to me why they are the way they are,” he said, laughing again. “And it was right on.
“We did that to help determine who enjoyed which jobs, and it allowed people to really look inside the souls of their teammates. It was very eye-opening to everyone, including myself.”
Murphey also found that most of his employees are interested in their connection to the company's future.
“Most comments were not about money,” he said.
Perhaps that's because B&B has its own minimum wage. In a state with a $7.25 hourly minimum, B&B pays $11. The company also has a gain-sharing program with potential monthly payouts. B&B matches employee contributions to a retirement savings plan, and provides a discretionary match above the standard. It offers health benefits to full- and part-time employees.
In addition to supporting about a dozen community initiatives, B&B endows scholarships at two colleges.
“The reason B&B is in existence today has to do with our core values more than anything else,” Murphey said. “They drive the boat: Be fair, tell the truth, keep your promise, respect the individual and stimulate intellectual curiosity. We hire based on people's ability to adhere to those.
“I couldn't be prouder of this group.”