The secret to success: Building relationships and learning from others

In 2004, Rod Murphy established R&R Murphy—a specialist metal fabrication and general engineering firm based in Newcastle. Over the last 15 years, Rod built his business from humble beginnings in a small workshop with a dirt floor, to an award-winning company, with a purpose-built facility, exporting to 21 countries.

According to Rod, “I had to make a decision in 2011. In three or four years, would I wander out to pasture? Or, would I take the company to another level? I chose option two.”

“Diversification and collaboration have been key. At the time, we were operating only in the mining industry. This was very lucrative—before the downturn. I looked at the other industries that our skills and capabilities were applicable to. I identified the defence, architecture, transport, and water filtration industries. Then, I had to determine what we needed to do to break into, and be successful in, these industries. I identified the defence industry as our number one priority. This was the longest, hardest road but the criteria for success was very high. So, if we were successful in defence, we could reasonably expect to be successful in the other industries,” said Rod.

“In conjunction with an external consultant, we designed a five-year business plan. We became certified to three different ISO Standards to cover every aspect for any future client. We implemented good management systems and lean manufacturing methodology, and invested in new equipment. We also invested in a new website and a marketing plan. Then, in 2016, we were named manufacturer of the year. This set the bar higher. Our five-year business plan was almost complete. So, we created another five-year plan.”


Collaboration Must Be Embedded in Your DNA

A passionate and inspirational man, Rod is now sharing his expertise and experience to encourage other Australian manufacturers, speaking at several of AMGC’s recent events, including The Path to Advanced Manufacturing in both Cairns and Townsville.

“Unfortunately, in Australia, we don’t do enough collaboration. My goal, really, is to keep chipping away at the idea that collaboration is essential; to keep talking to companies so they get the idea that—to succeed—collaboration must be embedded in their DNA. It’s all about strengths and weaknesses; we all need to collaborate with companies with different strengths to our own to win big projects,” said Rod.

“I am keen to present our story to other manufactures—to explain what we’ve done to get to where we are. I want manufacturers to think, ‘If Rob Murphy can do it, then I can do it too’. I want to give back to my industry and inspire other people.”


Shared Experience, Expertise & Inspiration

Rod attended the Armidale Industry Capability Connect Workshop, which was facilitated by AMGC in collaboration with the UNE SMART Region Incubator and Armidale Regional Council. It was at this event that Rod met Phil Macfarlane (Managing Director, Rose Valley Steel Works).

Based in Armidale, Rose Valley Steel Works is a custom metal fabrication company. When Phil began with the company 15 years ago, it consisted of a total of two employees, including Phil. The company now has over 20 employees, much larger premises in Armidale, a second location in Tamworth, and it incorporates another business— ShedBoss Armidale.

Rod and Phil are now working together, sharing ideas and information for mutual success. They have toured each other’s facilities, and attended several networking events facilitated by AMGC, including a tour of the University of Wollongong to learn more about their robotics and other technologies.

According to Phil Macfarlane (Managing Director, Rose Valley Steel Works), “Rod and I are on the same journey. Rod started his earlier than mine, but we are definitely headed in the same direction. Rod has been really helpful in offering advice and guidance, and sharing information. He has shown me his setup, and how their systems operate, and has even put me in touch with some contacts to buy equipment. I feel quite confident that if I wanted to give Rod a ring at any stage, I can. Rod is a very inspirational bloke, who doesn’t mind helping out fellow manufacturers.”

“Success really is all about building relationships, and learning from other people,” said Phil.