The newly appointed president of Central Civil Construction, Robert Murphy, has a lot on his mind these days: the infrastructure bill, technology and how the industry has evolved over the course of his nearly 40-year career.
"Technology has developed tremendously, in just about every aspect: the equipment, the actual heavy equipment, technology in the office, the management software, the takeoff software and the survey equipment has developed quite a bit as have drone applications," he said. "It's been a big help making us more efficient."
Murphy was named president of the Medley, Florida-based construction firm at the end of June, the first time a non-family member has held a C-suite position at the company. His decades of industry experience includes public works and transportation construction.
Murphy has held executive positions for other heavy civil contractors in South Florida, most recently as regional director for Daniel O’Connell’s Sons, specializing in wastewater treatment plants in the Miami area.
Murphy is keeping an eye on Capitol Hill these days. The Senate recently voted to advance a bill that includes $550 billion in new federal funding for infrastructure, which is expected to translate into significant capital project spending across the country.
The bill is also the largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system, according to the White House.
"The infrastructure for highways, bridges and airports I think is essential. And I think that's where the focus will be. And the biggest benefit will be in those areas, seaports, as well," said Murphy. "We're expecting the highway bridge, airports and seaport funding to be there. It reaps benefits to the economy if that's where the money is focused."
Thanks in part to low interest rates, funding for projects is coming back after COVID-19 put a damper on public and private budgets, he said. Central Civil Construction specializes in airports, seaports, roadways, stadiums, heavy highway construction, earthwork, underground utility work, land development, deep excavations and infrastructure civil engineering projects.
The construction company was recently awarded the sitework package for proposed improvements to an 82-acre park in Doral, Florida, known as Doral Central Park (shown above). The project includes clearing; earthwork; water, sewer, drainage and asphalt work; and concrete paving.
"The projects that we do for builders, developers, and general contractors have picked up quite a bit," he said. "We'll continue with that and expand it as the market allows."
On the public side, larger infrastructure work is coming online from local government agencies such as Miami-Dade County and the South Florida Water Management District, which is running several projects in the Everglades Restoration Program, he said. Central Civil Construction is exploring areas related to water and wastewater treatment facilities, said Murphy. He said Miami Dade County, Broward County and Southeast Florida municipalities have significant upgrades to perform in the next decade, and he sees this as a future opportunity.
In addition, he said, there is a heightened interest in mitigating sea level rise, and a lot of projects have taken that into consideration.
"The focus is a little bit on hardening the systems," said Murphy. "For example, wastewater treatment plants and water plants that may be affected by sea level rise in the future."
Murphy's appointment means Richard Baer will now be chairman and Bob Baer will be CEO. The brothers are the sons of the late James Baer, founder of the construction firm in 1977. Murphy will report directly to both Richard and Bob.
"My plan is to run the operations as well as train the next generation for leadership positions," said Murphy. "Certainly grow the business as the market develops. We'll certainly grow the business to a larger volume, possibly diversify a little bit too."