Finding someone with extensive experience in a certain area – that’s one thing. Finding dozens of people with that level of experience in a multitude of areas, and all under one roof – that’s quite another. But that’s what we’re fortunate enough to offer our customers here at Murdock Companies. More than half of our team has over 15 years of experience in their respective fields. You simply will not find that amount of talent under one roof anywhere else. A lot can happen over 100 years. Here is where we had been, and where we are today:
Of the five divisions within Murdock Companies today, Murdock Electric is the oldest of the five, dating all the way back to 1921. Commercial electrical work was on the rise when Pete Castholm became interested in “where the power went” after it left the motor. When he saw chain and rope drives giving way to newer systems such as V-belts, roller chain, and gear reducers, Pete saw an opportunity. Seeing firsthand the market evolve, Pete soon became well known
for his ability to design drives using these new components. The results? Higher horsepower, longer life, and minimal downtime.
Adding "& Supply" to Murdock Electric was another innovation, as Pete was the first to replace the "rattle chain" drive on combines with V-belts. The first demonstration was near Hillsboro, Kansas, where many hundreds came to watch, and listen, to Pete’s invention. Eventually this V-belt conversion was installed on new combines before they left the showroom floor, and eventually ended up being added to almost every new combines sold in the entire country.
Murdock’s growth in grain handling and flour milling was a natural evolution for Pete, and when a graduated milling engineer, Bill Brainard, joined the company, the cast was complete. Bill had grown up in milling before college, having worked for Schinleys, Forester, and Ershram Manufacturing before joining Murdock. His background was a perfect match, and his work led to many improvements in the industry, including the flour-sack-packer conversion system, of which over 100 are currently in use today. As we’ve seen opportunities over the years to better serve our customers by providing more products and services, we’ve added a few companies to the Murdock family tree.
In 1951 Dean Pittenger and Glen Holderman opened up a company called Rubber Supply. Their first location was on the corner of Second and Emporia, and later moved to 719 E. 3rd, both in Wichita, Kansas. Partner number three came along in 1955, when a longtime B.F. Goodrich salesman, Carmen Newland, joined the company. Five years later, two stores were added, Topeka Rubber Supply and Kansas City Rubber Supply. (These divisions were later sold, though they remain in business today under different names.)
Rubber Supply had enjoyed a 24-year history of success when it became the first company purchased by Murdock Electric in 1974. Prior to this, Murdock had distributed conveyor and elevator belting on a limited scale, but the purchase of Rubber Supply put us in the belting business to stay. And with the acquisition also came the addition of new product lines such as industrial hoses, protective clothing, and other specialty rubber goods.
The next year Rubber Supply, now flying under the Murdock banner, moved to 422 N. Rock Island. The additional space allowed us to expand our product offerings and become a complete industrial rubber distributor. The space also gave us room to add our 72" hydraulic powered belt slitter and 60" elevator belt punch. As a result, our Rubber Supply Division is now well established as a major local and regional supplier in both rubber products and maintenance systems.
Larry Osmond founded Twin Power at 518 E. Gilbert in
Wichita. Branch operations in Tulsa, OK, and Kansas City, KS, were later
added to serve the expanding market for hydraulic and pneumatic tools
Larry chose the name “Twin Power” to highlight two emerging
areas of particular interest to him: hydraulics and pneumatics.
Combining previous experience with his masters in engineering, Larry
developed many innovations in the hydraulic design practices, some of
which are still in wide use decades later. A prime example is the
automated hydraulic flour mill, a joint effort by Larry and Herb
Vanderlip of Kice Industries. Though built in the 60s, the mill is still
in use today.
In the farm states, the demand for increased performance
from agricultural machinery drove rapid development of hydraulic
components. On a larger scale, manufacturers saw the advantages of
hydraulic components to save manpower as well as considerably increase
the performance of new equipment. Turns out Larry’s instincts couldn’t
have been better: Twin Power components and designs quickly became the
standards of the industry. As a result, hydraulic hoses and components
have provided Murdock with some of our greatest opportunities to better
serve our existing customers, and welcome in new ones.
After Larry’s death, his family sold the company to Les
Henderson in 1975. Five years later Twin Power moved to 422 N. Rock
Island, providing 15,000 square feet and a prime anchor position on what
was becoming "Murdock Row." Today, Twin Power resides at our main
location at 1111 E. 1st in Wichita.
The newest member of the Murdock Family, Murdock Industrial
Supply’s origins go back to 1976 when Tri-States Mill Supply opened a
branch in Wichita (ironically, they rented the original Rubber Supply
building on 3rd St). When the parent company ran into financial
problems, the Wichita branch split away but retained their name and
moved across the street into the old Wichita Laundry building on Rock
In 1978 Les Henderson purchased the company and changed the
name to Murdock Industrial Supply. Before this time, Murdock’s primary
industrial focus was limited to hand and power tools, and maintenance
and manufacturing items. And with the addition of the Iscar line of
metal removal tools, we were the able to provide new markets with
greater potential to serve our customers.
The first-ever branch of The Murdock Companies was opened in
Enid, Oklahoma on December 11, 1978. Bearing, Rubber and Hydraulics
left its previous location at 1401 N. Van Buren, and Dave Despard
transferred from Wichita to oversee this important venture. Joining Dave
was the branch’s first outside salesman, Ken Poe.
After sharing a warehouse for a short time with a repair shop during the rough Oklahoma economy in the mid ‘80’s, things picked up, and we relocated to 1014 Kline Circle, where we remained for five years. It wasn’t long before still more space was necessary, so we moved to our present location at 2502 N 11th St.
Noticing that the region’s agricultural and industrial customers would benefit from a “closer Murdock,” we did just that, and in late 1981 opened our second branch, this time in Hutchinson, KS. Our store at 1427 N. Halstead provides customers with two on-hand salespeople, and an outside salesperson to come right out and see you directly.
In 1985 we branched out once more, this time in McPherson, at 720 W. Kansas. The new store relied upon our Hutchinson warehouse until 1987, when McPherson became a full-branch store with access to over 250,000 parts just down the road in Wichita. Like our service commitment in Hutchinson, the McPherson store has two inside salespeople and one outside salesperson. Pictured below are stores located at Hutchinson and McPherson (left to right) respectively, with links attached to their webpage and location.
As with any business, change is inevitable. And over the years we've certainly seen our share. But one thing we hope hasn't changed, and that's putting the customer first. Because without you, we wouldn't last 90 days. So from everyone at the Murdock Family of companies, we thank you, and stand ready for your next call or visit!