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Murphy Marine Services changing with the times at Delaware’s port of Wilmington

PORT OF WILMINGTON, DE — When the recently completed Chilean fruit season began, no one anticipated the volume of product that would be coming up the Delaware River to the port of Wilmington for handling by Murphy Marine Services, here. What first looked like a normal year turned turbulent, and in late June the company was “still winding down from a pretty hectic season,” said President John Coulahan.

“The Chilean season was a little backward, timing-wise,” Coulahan said. “It was good volume, record-setting volume, 20-25 percent over projections and no one was expecting it. It was good, but it was hectic. We had to react to a lot of things. It was a good problem to have.”

Murphy-MarineVice President Pat Farrell and President John Coulahan of Murphy Marine Services. (Photo by Chip Carter)Those are the kinds of challenges the company has risen to for almost a half-century; while it became Murphy Marine 16 years ago, its roots at the port of Wilmington date back to the 1970s.

With an old-school work ethic and attention to detail, over time Murphy Marine has evolved from a simple cargo handler to supply chain experts.

“Over the years we’ve peeled away layers of obstructions to make things as seamless as possible for our customers,” Coulahan said. “The businesses at the port of Wilmington have to work together as a team. Many years ago all each party was interested in was their specific function — for us it was, ‘Just get it off the ship.’ However, in today’s marketplace, in order to provide better service to our customers, it is essential that we know their business too. We need to understand what is driving our customers’ decision making, so we are part of the same process. Business is extremely competitive, and our customers are always looking to drive excess cost out of their systems. We need to always be aware of that and be a proactive partner in their distribution system.”

Vice President Pat Farrell added, “We work together and do what we can do to drive costs down. It could be a nickel a pallet but that nickel keeps the business here. Even if it’s only a penny a box, you take what the annual throughput on that is and the next thing you know it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars, it adds up fast. We have an in-depth knowledge of what the shipper, the shipping line and the end receiver are looking for and can assist in getting it through the supply chain as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

“On a daily basis we ensure that we know what we need to know in order to provide a valued-added service to our customers,” Coulahan said. “The more you know about what’s driving them and their business, the easier it is to interact with them and offer some input and make a difference.”