G.A. Murdock’s Appelwick Makes the Grade
By Carlos David Mogollón, WC&P Executive Editor
G.A. Murdock Inc.
1200 Division Ave. S.
P.O. Box 465 • Madison, SD 57042
Tel: (800) 568-7565 or (605) 256-9632
Fax: (800) 568-4301 or (605) 256-9682
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Management: Gene Appelwick, president; Brian Appelwick, vice president
Revenues: 2002/2003 growth–13%, average growth over 3 years–15%, expected 2004 growth–20%
Brian Appelwick, vice president of G.A. Murdock Inc., of Madison, S.D., is a third-generation water treatment professional. His grandfather, Omer, established one of the first Culligan dealerships in this rural town of 6,800 in 1949. Omer sold it to his son, Gene, in the ’70s.
Brian’s father launched G.A. Murdock in 1987 to purchase some assets for depreciation purposes. Brian worked at the dealership between classes at the University of Nebraska. But business was brisk, so he decided to finish up his business studies at Huron University while managing another dealership that was acquired in Huron, S.D., in 1990. That’s about when the Appelwicks began gearing up G.A. Murdock as a vehicle to improve the quality of valves, fittings and other point-of-use/point-of-entry (POU/POE) water treatment accessories available on the market.
In 1992, after G.A. Murdock moved into its own 17,000-square-foot facility, things really took off, Brian said. At the Water Quality Association trade show, the company introduced its Mur-Lok RO Pal, which was designed to replace saddle valves frowned upon in most plumbing codes. It began manufacturing ball valves in 1994 as well and acted as a distributor for a number of other companies. Today, those companies include KX Industries, Watts Regulator, Pentair’s Pentek (formerly Plymouth Products), GE Osmonics, Touch-Flo and Opella as well as Hanna Instruments, Dow Liquid Separations, Omnipure and Clack Corp.
One of its key product lines for 10 years was John Guest valves and fittings until G.A. Murdock introduced its own line under the Mur-Lok brand a year ago at the WQA exhibition in Las Vegas. It also introduced its own polyethylene tubing and PVC drain line. Appelwick pointed out the company hired a consultant to help develop the new lines and set up its manufacturing operation to ramp up to meet demand. That started about two years ago and, around the same time, they sold the dealerships to an employee to concentrate on G.A. Murdock.
Today, business is great, Brian said. Through the recent recession, it maintained an average annual growth rate of 15 percent. With the economy trending upward, it expects a 20 percent growth rate in 2004. He credits that to on-time deliveries and good customer service. “We take care of the customer,” said Appelwick. “We try to ship about 95 percent of the orders the same day.”
About 75 percent of sales are to dealers, but the company expects a 30 percent growth rate among manufacturing customers. Overall, about 85 percent of business is residential with the balance in commercial/industrial split among office coffee service, dialysis, photo processing, beverage and agricultural clients, among others. International business—which makes up about 10 percent of sales—is strongest in Canada, accounting for half of that figure. But the recent low value of the dollar has helped sales in Europe and elsewhere as well.
Brian sees chloramines’ effect on valves and fittings and potential leaks as a hot-button issue the industry will continue to face: “With the issues of the insurance companies and mold and everything else, it’s probably going to be a pretty big deal.”