First to arrive at US construction sites, Ferguson is last to leave. Brunswick talks with CEO Kevin Murphy.
In moving its primary listing to the NYSE from London this year, Ferguson is bringing the company back home, where it has served the US construction industry for 70 years. Today, Ferguson is a $23 billion leading North American distributor that provides expertise, solutions and products to construction projects across the country—from infrastructure, plumbing and appliances to HVAC, fire, fabrication and more. It transferred its primary listing from the London Stock Exchange to the NYSE in May to align listing location with sales, operations and management.
Its ubiquitous presence in the building trades offers Ferguson an extraordinarily informed glimpse into the present and medium-term health of a critical US market. In short, Ferguson is a bit of a national economic indicator. Its CEO, Kevin Murphy, was born into the business, his father having started an Ohio pipe and supply company that Ferguson eventually acquired. After a steady rise at Ferguson, Murphy took the top job six months before the pandemic arrived. Under his leadership Ferguson managed to thrive amid that difficulty.
In an interview with Brunswick’s Rebecca Kral and Andrew Williams, Murphy outlines Ferguson’s strategy for growth, explains how its culture is designed to train leaders and explains why his own story offers inspiration to associates joining Ferguson via acquisition.
Your career at Ferguson began when it acquired your father’s pipe and supply company in Ohio?
My father started a company called Midwest Pipe and Supply, based in Columbus, Ohio. Very early on, I started working in the warehouse loading and unloading trucks, working our will-call counter, doing inside sales, making deliveries and eventually going on the road as a salesperson. I’ve done essentially every job that you can think of inside a wholesale operation.
As my father moved into retirement, I was essentially managing the business. We were a good growth business, and it got to a place where it was either, “Let’s expand significantly and go regional,” or, “Let’s hunker down and be a great local niche player.”
Then Ferguson came knocking. We sold the business to Ferguson on June 4, 1999. I found a home with the talented associates of Ferguson who gave me a great opportunity. In terms of passion, knowledge for the business, real desire to succeed and grow, I met some of the most amazing people here. They embraced me, and the rest is history.
What qualities do you think most enabled your rise at Ferguson?
You try at every level to be the best at what you’re doing for the organization. But what really made Ferguson a good fit for me was a culture established long before I arrived, a culture where you will succeed if you care more about developing those around you than you care about your own position.