Treat others how you want to be treated. According to Patrick Murphy, VP of D.L.P. Coatings, Inc., a provider of quality painted fasteners, that is one of the key business lessons his dad taught him. His father, Richard “Dick” Murphy, opened D.L.P. in 1985.
“My dad was originally a manufacturer’s rep in the fastener industry and then got a somewhat crazy idea to go out on his own and paint fasteners because he thought he could do it better than what was available at that time,” shared Patrick Murphy. “And, in many ways, he was right.”
Murphy said the first shop his dad opened was about 5,000 square feet in Elk Grove Village, Illinois (about a 40-minute drive from downtown Chicago). Today, the company works in a 40,000 square-foot building. “Sadly, my dad passed away last year but this company was his life. He gave so much to it and worked hard to grow it to what it is today. In fact, his very first employee, Mark Duncan, still works for us some 35 years later.”
Murphy joined the family business 12 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. “I somehow always knew that I’d work with my dad but first wanted time on my own, independently, to figure things out,” he said. “Then, shortly after I graduated from college with a marketing degree, the 2007-08 recession hit, and the job market was bleak.”
Additionally, his father had some health concerns at the time, so it made sense that Murphy began learning the business alongside his dad. “I haven’t regretted a moment of the decision to join D.L.P Coatings. My dad was the best mentor you could ask for. He was very down-to-earth and supportive of those around him. And he absolutely loved the work.”
Murphy’s dad built the business from a general fastener coating company to one that offers several added services, including waxing, assembly, packaging, and others. It also serves several industries such as window and door, residential and composite decking, truck and trailer, lighting, electrical, and automotive — including big companies such as Anderson Windows and General Electric.
One unique service D.L.P. offers is a computer color matching system. This process uses a spectrophotometer to measure the exact intensity of color wavelengths. Then, a mathematical analysis of the color sample and a formula for a targeted color match is created.
“We do all of the color matching in-house and the process is so precise that it can be modified to fit varying color and lighting specifications,” said Murphy. “It’s similar to going to Home Depot or Lowe’s to match the paint color for your walls but for industrial parts and fasteners. So, for example, if a customer has a metal building with sheet metal in Hawaiian Blue, we’re able to match and make that exact color of blue at our facility to paint the fasteners — no matter the shade.”
Murphy said D.L.P. offers exterior grade-paints that have been engineered with the company’s manufacturers, with proven UV, chemical, and chip and scratch resistance. The paints are also environmentally friendly.
“We have a lot of customers who have been with us for a long time and I credit that to my dad. He treated everyone in the same way…he was always fair and respectful. And I try to do the same. We’re not changing anything here. We’ve even kept the same paint and the same kind of paint systems. We’re only working to continually improve the process.”
According to Murphy, one of the biggest challenges is that the company is typically considered a second or third-tier supplier, and one of the last considered during a project or for an assembly. “This means we’re typically the last to touch the part and by the time it hits our door, the order is already hot. The customer has been waiting for six or eight weeks, or longer.”
The challenge is in, then, getting each part processed and painted as quickly as possible. Murphy encourages people to think of such details earlier in the design stage of a project.
“The reality is that most people simply don’t think about the fastener color until late in the game,” he said. “But my dad often called himself the paint doctor and for good reason. He always said there wasn’t a problem we couldn’t solve or customer we couldn’t support at the company and we continue to stand by that.”