July 11, 2019
Column | outbound

Rock on, Richard

The logistics and supply chain profession is a community of very special folks, none more so than my late friend from Minnesota.

By Mitch Mac Donald

Down a little dirt road in the little Cape Cod beach town of Orleans sits a little house—probably no bigger than five or six rooms. Painted a distinctive shade of purple and owned by an older gent who sports a gray ponytail and favors tie-dyed shirts, it looks on the outside to be just another hippie house. But what's inside makes it someplace special.

That funky little house is actually a quirky little record shop that's a veritable goldmine of rare, vintage rock 'n' roll recordings. Seldom have I ventured through its doors and not found something unexpected and unique. It's a small slice of heaven for a child of the 60s and 70s with an appetite for hard-to-find works from the artists who defined rock 'n' roll.

Little did I know when I sat down for dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, that this little purple house would trigger what would end up being a life-changing conversation. I was in Orlando, Fla., with nearly 50 of the world's most distinguished logistics and supply chain professionals, who had gathered for the taping of a special video series to mark the 50th anniversary of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. It's no exaggeration to say everywhere I turned, I saw another industry legend.

As I filled my salad plate at the buffet and turned to look for an open seat, I was happy to spot one next to a gentleman from Minnesota I had known for years and interviewed twice. That long-time acquaintance was Richard Murphy, CEO of Murphy Warehouse Co., a Minneapolis-based logistics services company renowned for its eco-friendly business practices. Over the years, it has invested heavily in energy conservation, recycling, improved stormwater runoff, and more—all aimed at mitigating its operations' impact on the environment and the community. Ever humble, Richard always insisted what he was doing wasn't all that special, "just some common-sense stuff." We all knew otherwise.

As I took my seat, the conversation started with the usual business-event small talk. "You are from Boston, right?" Richard asked. "Guilty!" I replied.

"Do you ever get out to Cape Cod?" he asked. "Every summer, and for as many days as I can get away with," I joked.

"Are you familiar with Orleans?" he asked. "I sure am," I answered. "It is right next door to Eastham. We've been spending a week or two in July there since the kids were school-aged."

Richard related he had just been there the previous month. This struck me as somewhat odd. Plenty of folks go to Cape Cod in the summer, but what in the world was Richard doing there in October? The sidewalks have long since been rolled up by that time of year.

"Believe it or not, there's this old hippie who sells hard-to-find, vintage rock music out of a little purple house off Main Street," he said. "I try to get there as often as I can. I'm sort of a collector of hard-to-find rock music, especially The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Beach Boys."

Apparently, the smile that spread across my face was large. Richard asked what was so funny.

Over the next hour or so, a very cordial business "friendship" became very much more. During the nearly seven years that followed, Richard and I have chatted, visited, and corresponded on many topics, but none so fondly or so passionately as our discussions of music and our pilgrimages to that old purple house in Orleans. For Richard, the quest was for studio demos of the greats from the 1960s and 1970s. For me, it's for rare live recordings from those same greats.

As each summer approached, we would share notes about the concerts we planned to attend. For 2019, Richard's list included the Stones and The Who, while I looked forward to Aerosmith and the Eagles.

Alas, some rocks stop rolling far too soon. On July 4, Richard died unexpectedly in Minnesota. Our profession lost a brilliant visionary, and I lost a valued friend.

Rock on, Richard! We'll keep an eye out for that rare Beatles vinyl on our next trip to Orleans.

About the Author

Mitch Mac Donald
Group Editorial Director
Mitch Mac Donald has more than 30 years of experience in both the newspaper and magazine businesses. He has covered the logistics and supply chain fields since 1988. Twice named one of the Top 10 Business Journalists in the U.S., he has served in a multitude of editorial and publishing roles. The leading force behind the launch of Supply Chain Management Review, he was that brand's founding publisher and editorial director from 1997 to 2000. Additionally, he has served as news editor, chief editor, publisher and editorial director of Logistics Management, as well as publisher of Modern Materials Handling. Mitch is also the president and CEO of Agile Business Media, LLC, the parent company of DC VELOCITY and CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly.

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