In this issue of Insights, we talk with business development manager John Murray about his role on the Insyte team. John’s responsibilities include marketing the company’s services to manufacturers in Erie, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties, as well as providing marketing support to Insyte’s clients. Here, John discusses his South Buffalo roots, working with his father and how Insyte has evolved in his almost 20 years with the company.
So you’re a Buffalo boy.
I grew up in South Buffalo. In those days, almost everyone went to Catholic school, and your neighborhood was delineated by what parish you were in.
I went to St. Ambrose. From there, I went onto Canisius High School and from there, to Canisius College, where I got an undergrad in marketing, and then I got my master’s from UB.
What did your parents do?
My mother was a stay-at-home mom, and my dad worked at the Pillsbury plant for 40 years. He was the production manager and, I think, also the traffic manager.
What was your first job in manufacturing?
My first summer out of high school, I was at Bethlehem Steel in the joist mill, which gave me some good exposure to how things are made. The next summer, I was on the railroad as a yard clerk, [where] UPS is now. I worked a steady midnight shift and made a lot of money, paid my tuition, and had enough left to buy a car. The last two summers I worked at the Pillsbury plant in the lab, where I pulled samples and tested flour.
Did you work with your father at Pillsbury?
Oh yeah. One summer I was on steady midnights and he was on days. He was in the office on the fourth floor and I was up on the fifth floor.
What do you think of the evolution of Buffalo manufacturing over the years?
We’re finally seeing things happen, rather than [things] just being talked about. I mean, just the amount of construction that’s going on around here with all positive things. Even manufacturing is starting to come back here. I think what’s happening at Riverbend, the old Republic Steel site—it’s phenomenal! It’s advanced manufacturing. It’s advanced technologies. It’s going to be a great contribution to the local economy and to the manufacturing base here.
You’ve been with Insyte for close to 20 years. What did the organization look like when you began?
It was totally different. It was the very, very early stages of us being a consulting company. We really had nothing in place and we were not known as a local manufacturing resource for consulting services. We had a very meager customer base back then. We actually had five people doing outreach and one person to do project work [laughs]. It was totally different than what we have now, where we have two people doing outreach and, you know, ten people doing project work. But it built pretty quickly and it became very interesting and very fascinating right from the start.
You’ve been described as someone who knows everyone in town. Are you just good with faces and names?
I think that’s maybe part of it, but just the fact that I have lived here so long and worked here for so long, it’s just natural to know a lot of people. Anywhere we go, I’m going to know somebody there, or if somebody drops a name, I’ll know who they are.
Do you find that that is helpful in the work that you’re doing with your clients?
Absolutely. People still buy from people, so you’re more likely to buy from somebody you know than somebody you don’t.
How has Insyte’s legacy remained intact over the years?
Sometimes you have to take a step back because you don’t realize how far you’ve come, and that’s certainly the case here. When we started, we weren’t that well known, we had no credibility as far as consulting in the manufacturing environment. Now I really think that we’ve come to the point where we’re generally recognized as the best resource for manufacturing support in WNY, and that’s where we want to be. We’ve established ourselves as a valuable resource here for WNY manufacturers.