It’s one thing to start as a refrigeration company. But with all the technological changes and customer demands that have come over the years, contractors often expand upon that base. Take, for example, the RJ Murray Co. The company has grown from commercial refrigeration, to residential refrigeration, to air conditioning, to IAQ, to power generation, to environmental initiatives.
“Just as my grandfather did, we always try to put the customer first and find innovative ways to stay ahead of the competition,” said owner Bob Murray. “It is this attention to detail that allows us to live up to our motto, ‘always a better value.’ We’re proud of our legacy. It’s been that way for 75 years, and it’s not going to change anytime soon.”
IN THE BEGINNINGWith wife Agnes at his side, Bob’s grandfather Richard J. Murray Sr. formed the Schenectady Kelvinator commercial refrigeration business in the mid-1920s in Schenectady, N.Y. As the market grew, commercial refrigeration products soon became relevant to residential applications.
One day Richard made a service call that would change the face of his business forever. A woman complained that her refrigerator was not cooling properly. When Richard entered the woman’s kitchen, he noticed she had been ironing with the refrigerator door open to keep cool. Thinking about what he had just witnessed gave Richard an idea that would shape his growing company for years to come - comfort solutions for the entire home.
Homes did tend to get rather warm and stuffy in the summer, even with all the windows open, so why not bring refrigeration to the entire home? In fact, after he gave it some more thought, why not bring refrigeration to the business buildings he served as well?
This brainstorm led Richard to seek out a solution. The answer was obvious. In 1902, Willis Carrier had invented air conditioning by capturing some of the same principles that were used in refrigeration. Carrier had applied those refrigeration principles to a Brooklyn, N.Y., printing plant. A few years later Carrier patented his new invention.
In 1933 - the year in which Schenectady Kelvinator changed its name to RJ Murray Co. - the company started selling Carrier products. RJ Murray Co. moved to its present location in Latham, N.Y., as a full-fledged Carrier dealer, which was a designation used at that time for both dealers and distributors.
GOING STRONGThree generations later the business is still going strong, with locations in Latham and Williston, Vt. In addition to Bob’s role as president, his brother Rick Murray serves as VP of residential sales. There is also a fourth generation in the business.
As the standard of living steadily increased in the United States over the last century, so did demand for air conditioning. “Over the years technology has revolutionized the industry,” said Bob Murray.
“Today’s equipment is easy to operate and energy efficient. That raises expectations by consumers. Just think about the old, round dials that used to be on your wall and compare them to the programmable thermostats of today. Today’s equipment is also able to be delivered in a much smaller package. But the one area where technology is most evident is in reliability. Today’s HVAC equipment is reliable in a way never dreamed of in the past.”
Today, RJ Murray Co. focuses on IAQ, power generation, and the environment as growth opportunities. “With products like the Infinity air purifier, standby backup generators, and non-ozone depleting refrigerants like R-410A, we are able to grow in areas that are important to our customers,” said Murray. “Training is critical to our success. With the diversity of HVAC equipment, our dealer technicians have to be able to install equipment correctly. Otherwise, the technological advantages are lost.”
EXPERTISE IMPORTANTThis level of expertise has come in handy. RJ Murray Co. has been involved in difficult installations where special engineering specifications had to be met, such as a nanotechnology center, a biotechnology center, and a computer microprocessor plant. The HVAC system was a critical component to the success of each of these delicate operations, so it had to be right.
Over the years, RJ Murray Co. has been about more than business. It has been a strong supporter in the local communities that comprise its territory in New York and New England. For years the company has quietly donated equipment to local charities for homes that are being rehabbed.
“It’s always been important for us to be involved at a charitable level in the local community,” said Bob. “We haven’t really promoted it, but I know it’s a point of pride with our employees.”
In noting the contractor’s 75 years as a Carrier distributor, Greg Alcorn, Carrier’s vice president for distribution and business development, said, “We value our long-term relationship with such a quality distributor and community supporter and congratulate RJ Murray on this milestone anniversary. Our 75 years of partnership with RJ Murray represents our longest distribution relationship and exemplifies our commitment to working closely with our distributors to win together in the marketplace.”
Publication date: 04/06/2009