Perspectives on Business Management with Brian Murphy, President, Eagle Metals

February 2, 2023

Welcome to another MetalForming magazine Q&A session with an executive from a metal stamping and fabricating company. With each of the articles in this series we provide an inside look at their management philosophies, share their daily challenges and how they face them, and offer additional insights. We hope that you find the interviews useful and can take away some ideas to use in your own company.

Want to be interviewed for this column? Email editorial director Brad Kuvin,

Brian-Murphy-Eagle-Metals-managementThis month we feature Brian Murphy, newly appointed president of Eagle Metals, a specialty reroll mill that manufactures light-gauge, tight-tolerance copper-based alloys, stainless steels, nickel-based alloys and carbon-steel strip, coil and sheet. With two locations (a reroll mill in Leesport, PA, and a service center in El Paso, TX), the firm provides annealing, leveling, slitting and traverse winding for customers in the metal stamping, fabricating and other industries.

Q: What’s the best management-related book, webinar or event that you’ve recently enjoyed, and what were one or two of the key takeaways?

Murphy: I just finished reading Shoe Dog—A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, where Nike founder Phil Knight talks about the challenges he faced when developing the company, and many of his challenges ring true with us here at Eagle Metals—supply-chain issues and consolidation in our industry, for example.  To overcome those challenges, we’ve worked hard at diversifying our product line. While we used to provide only copper and brass products, we now provide stainless steels and other alloys—52 different alloys in fact.  

As far as a recently attended event, my PMA networking group met recently and those meetings always prove to be extremely valuable.  One key takeaway from the meeting: I learned about the soon-to-be-released Google GA4 (Google Analytics version 4) platform, so we’ve begun to prepare our website for this.   

Note: per Google, while “universal analytics highlights total users in most reports, GA4 focuses on active users… the calculation for this metric is different. …On July 1, 2023, standard universal analytics properties will stop processing new hits. If you still rely on universal analytics, we recommend that you prepare to use Google Analytics 4 going forward.”

Q: What is the biggest challenge that you face as a company leader?  

Murphy: Transitioning to my new role as president (from vice president of sales), I’m learning to work on the business instead of in the business.  I need to be the vision that the rest of the team must execute. That said, we do have a good succession plan in place, as our past president (and owner) Charles Bernard remains onboard as CEO, and long-time employee Sean Keller takes over as vice president of sales.  

Q: What are two or three of the most important things that you look for in a mid-level manager?  

Murphy: Having recently read another great management book, The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All, I took away how important the basic practice of caring can be and how important it is to have people on your team that care, and we look for that in our managers. Yes, we value talented and qualified people, but we also want them to care, to have a positive attitude and to take pride in their job. We promote people from the shop floor that we believe fit that mold, that they care about the customers and each other, and work above and beyond on behalf of the customers and each other.  

This is a core value for us, it’s in our mission statement, and we talk about it a lot. And, our customers take notice—customers want to do business with companies that care, with people that care and take pride in their company and how it operates.

Note: from Amazon comes this review of The Carpenter: “Michael wakes up in the hospital with a bandage on his head and fear in his heart. The stress of building a growing business, with his wife Sarah, caused him to collapse while on a morning jog. When Michael finds out that the man who saved his life is a carpenter, he visits him and quickly learns that he is more than just a carpenter; he also is a builder of lives, careers, people and teams.”

Q: What are two things that you believe your company is doing well? What's one thing that you wish you could change?  

Murphy: We’re consistently chasing capabilities that we don’t have and investing in new equipment, to satisfy customer needs or allow us to enter new markets. We are customer- and capability-driven. Most recently, in 2023 we will install  a new Z-mill, which will be our fifth rolling mill. In 2022 we added a single-head traverse winder and will add another five-head traverse winder this year. The new Z mill will increase our capacity to produce stainless-steel strip, as it has larger-hp motors than our existing mills, so we can upgrade our stainless capacity.

Eagle Metals also now operates a full CNC machining department, with three machines that allow us to manufacture our own work rolls, and soon we’ll look to machine work rolls for other companies.

If I could change one thing, it would be to go back to 1990, when we started, and move into a larger building in an industrial park with room to grow.  We are maxed out now, having expanded in 1998, 2014, 2015 and 2019. 

Q: How do you encourage and motivate your management team?  

Murphy: We have a great team and we let the talented people do their thing and support them with what they need to make their jobs easier.  Management just stays out of their way.

Among the team is our IT director, who we recently tasked with evaluating Chat GPT (the AI-based program used for generating dialogues). We think there might be opportunities for our employees to use this, in customer communications for example.

Note: Chat GPT, per, is a simulated chatbot primarily designed for customer service.  It features a language-based model that users can fine-tune for human interaction in a conversational manner, for online customer care.

Q: As technology seemingly evolves at an accelerating pace—automation, ERP/MES software, Industry 4.0, etc.—how do you and your team stay informed, and decide when to adopt new technology, or expand its use?

Murphy: We lean heavily on PMA—my networking group and FABTECH, for example, and we also frequently visit with our customers.  

Q: I assume it can be “lonely at the top” for you at times.  How do you relax, release your stress and rise above the endless list of problems that you have to deal with each day?  

Murphy: Having two young kids at home and a third on the way is a big help—my day’s challenges melt away when I get home to them. In addition, I play golf, ride motorcycles and boat in the summer, and snowboard in the winter.   

Q: What was the last concert you attended?

Murphy: My last concert was Collective Soul, which was a great show.  But what I’m most looking forward to is Timmy Trumpet playing Narco (the walk-on music for Mets relief pitcher Edwin Díaz) at Citi Field when the Mets play in the World Series in 2023. 

Industry-Related Terms: Alloys, Brass, Center, CNC, Core, Model
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Eagle Metals Inc.

Technologies: Management, Materials


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