contractor excels in commercial scene
JARDINE BEE STAFF WRITER (Published: Tuesday, August 17,
1999 - Modesto Bee) ╩╩╩
-- Rich Murdoch spent a decade convincing companies to let
someone else handle their payrolls.
creating entirely new payrolls by bringing new and expanded
businesses to Oakdale.
a 40-year-old general contractor and developer in Oakdale,
will construct $8 million worth of commercial buildings in
1999. With a Web site that updates photographs of his ongoing
projects hourly, he's clearly one of the main surfers riding
the wave of commercial construction in Oakdale.
has been instrumental in developing the Oakdale Business and
Industrial Park, along with retail centers downtown.
general contractor, he has a staff of only four, himself included.
But through subcontractors on his various projects, he employs
25 to 30 people each day. Those subs are building businesses
that bring jobs to the community -- 124 so far in the Oakdale
business park alone, with more to come.
has the highest sales tax revenue per person -- $1.50 per
capita -- of any city in Stanislaus County, City Administrator
Bruce Bannerman said.
in no small part, hasbeen enhanced by commercial projects
such as those developed by Murdoch. ╩╩╩"I can't say I can
name anyone who's done as much in a short time commercially,"
small business loans totaling $1.5 million contributed to
the $11.8 million in construction and approximately 227 new
jobs in Oakdale in 1998, said Susan Martin of the Stanislaus
County Economic Development Corporation.
of those projects -- The Don Hoy Co., Quality Machining and
Fitness Plus -- are Murdoch's. ╩Murdoch also is heavily involved
in the resurgence of downtown. He recently flattened the old
First Interstate Bank building at the southwest corner of
Yosemite and F streets. In about six weeks, he'll begin replacing
it with a 12,000-square-foot building that will be patterned
after the stylish turn-of-the-century bank building across
building will include a Washington Mutual Bank branch, a drive-through
Starbucks coffee house and other retail and office spaces.
build on the northeast corner of that same intersection, which
has been vacant for nearly a decade. Murdoch also built the
Blockbuster and Plaza shopping centers at the east end of
town two years ago. He has sold 10 of the 15 parcels in the
Oakdale Business and Industrial Park, and has built all but
one of the buildings.
one small general contractor become the city's hottest commercial
builder? Murdoch began his career in construction building
radio stations and dance clubs in southeastern Idaho 20 years
ago. "My wife (Lori) was from Merced," Murdoch said. "I'm
from Idaho. We compromised and moved to Oakdale." He went
into the payroll business and stayed in it for 10 years before
getting his contractor's license. He began building custom
homes in Modesto in 1989. He later added his real estate license.
Murdoch noticed how little activity there had been at the
Oakdale business park, so he seized the opportunity. ╩"I read
the story 'Acres of Diamonds' about a guy who had acres of
land and sold it to go searching for a diamond mine. Turns
out, the land he sold had the diamonds in it all along," Murdoch
said. "I saw all that cheap land (at the industrial park)."
If not a diamond mine, it's certainly been a gold mine. The
park's owner, Cran Newell of Colorado, bought the land in
time for the real estate boom of the late 1980s. But when
the economy went south in the early '90s, the lots quit selling.
only one lot in about six years," Murdoch said. Murdoch met
Newell and they agreed to have Murdoch sell the lots and be
the general contractor on the projects. ╩"I thought, 'This
is huge,' " he said. Huge, because the city of Oakdale included
the park its redevelopment zone, creating tax breaks and infrastructure
improvements. "The city has been incredibly helpful," Murdoch
said. "Between the redevelopment district and the permit fee
discounts and waivers, it's created a huge discount. It helps
he said, will recoup those discounts through tax revenues
within five years. Those benefits make it cheaper to build
there because permit fees are significantly lower than what
they would be elsewhere. The improvements add to the appraised
value of the property, and lenders make their loans based
upon appraised values. So prospective clients can more easily
qualify for loans.
Murdoch said he can sell the land for $1.50 per square foot,
compared with up to $5 per square foot at other business parks
in the county.
Newell had deeded another one of his holdings, Yosemite Industrial
Park, to the city. The city sold the lots for the price of
their existing bonds.
that park isn't in the redevelopment district, the inexpensive
land made it lucrative to Murdoch. He pitched an idea to Greg
Mauchley of Mercury Metals, a sheet metal business in Oakdale.
╩"He was renting three buildings," Murdoch said. "I said,
'I can build you one, and you'll own it.' "
Metals is now in a new 20,000-square-foot building along Yosemite
projects go beyond the traditional steel warehouse motif of
many industrial parks. They are designed to look more like
retail or office buildings, with extensive landscaping.
Thomas of Oakdale Tire & Brake said the design of the buildings
and its landscaping was a big selling point for him -- and
his customers, too.
Thomas moved into his new 6,000-square-foot building 15 months,
ago his sales have increased 45 percent and his staff has
grown from five to eight.
of it has to do with the building," Thomas said. "I've had
people say to me, 'Your flowers are so beautiful. If that's
the kind of work you do, I want you to work on my car.' "
credits Murdoch. "He did a beautiful job," Thomas said. "He's
attentive to his subcontractors. It'd better be done, and
it better be done right. Rich is very particular in what he
does and how he gets it done."
first full year, 1996, Murdoch grossed $2 million in revenues
followed by $2.5 million in 1997, $3.5 million last year and
a projected $8 million this year. And Oakdale has the additional
employers and their payrolls to show for it.
Rich Murdoch, 40, Oakdale.
R.J. Murdoch General Contractor, Oakdale.
Develops and builds primarily commercial properties in Oakdale.
Also has a project in Lathrop.
major projects completed: Blockbuster and Chief Auto Parts
(now Auto Zone), shopping center, The Plaza; Quality Machining,
M and M Finishes, Mercury Metals.
works: Don Hoy Co., Design Corrugating, Tide Rider Inc.,
Fitness Plus, Washington Mutual Bank and adjoining retail-office
space, Remcon, Gun Accessory Supply.
Three, plus 25 to 30 through subcontractors each day.
revenues: $8 million projected for 1999.
Wife, Lori; daughters Melissa, 16, Stacey, 14, Kristen,
10; sons Tyler, 8, and Brett, 6.