PAWCATUCK, CONN. — Jim Murphy, named in May as Davis-Standard LLC's president and CEO, said industry activism is time well spent for machinery manufacturers.
“It's important work,” Murphy said in a recent interview at Davis-Standard's headquarters in Pawcatuck.
Murphy should know — he has served for 15 years in a leadership role at the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. That work culminated when Murphy served as chairman of NPE 2015 in Orlando, Fla. He will remain on the executive committee through the 2018 NPE, as the immediate past chairman.
As an executive committee leader, Murphy worked with other members, and SPI officials, to research the decision to move NPE from its longtime home in Chicago to Orlando, beginning with NPE 2012.
“Whenever you make a change, there's always an uncertainty around the unknowns, right? Clearly I think that everybody saw a lot of opportunity, a lot of upside to the decision,” he said. “And when the show came in 2012, everybody that exhibited and attended had a great experience. A positive experience. That kind of feeds it, and the 2015 show grew nicely.”
Davis-Standard, which makes extrusion and converting equipment, takes the top executive position vacated when Bob Preston left the machinery maker to become top executive at GSE Environmental last November.
Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the company, which generates sales of about $300 million. Davis-Standard runs plants in Pawcatuck; Fulton, N.Y.; Suzhou, China, and Erkrath, Germany.
A native of Canton, Ohio, Murphy graduated from the University of Akron, then worked for a small company before taking a field sales job at extruder maker NRM Corp. After three years at NRM, he joined Davis-Standard. His most recent position, before becoming president and CEO, was vice president of global sales and marketing.
The sales role prompted Murphy to get active with SPI, on the Committee for Equipment Statistics. He got involved with the NPE marketing committee for the shows in 2003 and 2006, then got deeply involved in the NPE operations side in 2006 and 2009. He chaired the operations committee for NPE 2009 — the final one at Chicago's McCormick Place.
Moving NPE to Florida was a major undertaking, led by Bill Carteaux, SPI's president and CEO, and Gene Sanders, senior vice president of trade shows and conferences. Together with the two SPI leaders, the NPE executive committee got to work before the final decision was made.
“We pulled together and evaluated a lot of that data regarding the services — do we have the right services in Orlando? Do we have infrastructure — electric, power, water, floor loading, the ability to move material. All the kind of things you need to do to get it accomplished,” Murphy said.
Murphy said Davis-Standard management has always supported the volunteer work of its employees on trade associations. Company engineers also take an active role on SPI's safety standards efforts.
And Murphy said Davis-Standard is in a good position, as a business. More than half of its sales comes from machinery for the growing packaging market. The company employs 90 people in the Asia-Pacific region, including about 60 in Suzhou. The middle class in China and other countries in the region is growing, fueling demand for better food packaging — which fuels sales of more-advanced equipment, he said.
“Asia-Pacific represents about 25 to 30 percent of our sales. It's been that way, and growing, for the last decade,” Murphy said.
Private equity firm Oncap, part of Toronto-based Onex Corp., bought Davis-Standard in 2011. “They're extremely supportive in terms of providing financial strength, and extremely supportive of the business and the strategy of the business,” he said.
Murphy said Oncap expanded the number of Davis-Standard employees who hold an ownership stake to 100, from about 50 under the prior ownership. About 860 people work at Davis-Standard.
“Employees who are owners have a longer-term view of things, as an owner,” he said.
Davis-Standard's veteran workforce is a big strength, he said. At the last service awards dinner, the company recognized one employee with 45 years at the company. Eight employees got 40-year awards. Many people have worked at the company for more than 20 years.
“We have a clearly dedicated group of employees that understand the business and the technology,” Murphy said.