GUCA president Promotes Utility Construction Industry While Fighting to Stay in Business
Dixie Contractor Magazine, APRIL 2012 Volume 86 Number 4
By Michael Moon
His foreman refers to him as the Big Kahuna. His project managers know him as The Big Giant Head. All other employees recognize his status as Head Muckety-Muck. He’s even been proclaimed as Construction Magnate. He doesn’t bid on projects, projects bid on him. He is the most interesting man in the utility construction industry. His name is Charlie Murren.
With a personal motto of “Never look back, someone might be gaining on you,” the personal achievement perspective of “I am not dead yet, and I am still in business,” and the drive that leads him to be an active runner and biking enthusiast in his spare time, it is no wonder why he has learned to adapt and compete no matter what the challenge.
Murren graduated from Auburn University in 1981 with a bachelor of science in civil engineering and went on to establish C.A. Murren & Sons Company, Inc. in 1986 as a part-time business before committing to a full time business in 1987 and eventually progressing into a company with 150 employees. He started out performing bond release and residential concrete for Pulte Homes. In 1995, his company built the Grand Prix Arena at the Olympic Horse Park and the Olympic Cycling Veladrone and Stadium at Stone Mountain. In 1996, his company moved into residential and commercial site development.
C.A. Murren has continued to grow and evolve as a company. When asked what makes a successful business, he responds, “I don’t know, I am still trying to make my company into a successful business.” This type of humility is essential to survival and success as a business in any challenging environment.
Outside of his clear understanding and value to continue learning while never remaining idle to success, Murren understands the importance to diversify and adapts along with an ever changing market. He also understands that a successful business starts from within by treating your people with mutual trust and respect. This simple equation attracts and retains great people. In addition, Murren conducts his business with an open mind while listening to his employees’ ideas and letting them be a part of the decision making process. He treats his employees, not simply as employees, but as people that are part of the greater good and progression of C.A. Murren.
“Diversify” has become a more common term being used in construction circles these days. C.A. Murren has approached their business with a diversified attitude. They began working for the U.S. Department of Energy at the Savannah River Site in 2006 on the MOX project, moved on to coal fired power plant construction in 2008 and then to nuclear power plant construction in 2011.
C.A. Murren specializes in “anything that will pay the bills.” They still perform underground utility work but much of this work is now in power plants and on industrial facilities. A lot of this work is HDPE piping for fire suppression, chemicals, and welded steel for waste products and petroleum bi-products. They have event went as far outside the box as building the heavy structural concrete work on a high security bomb proof warehouse for the FBI where fingerprints are stored. They are also presently part of the team building foundations for the new cooling towers at Plant Vogtle in the Augusta area.
Although Murren realizes that times are tough and it’s going to be a couple of years before things see real progress, one of his company’s main goals is to still be in business when times get better. He wants his company to be a partner of choice with contractors and owners in the power and petroleum industry. Murren understands the essential basics of looking out for the customer’s best interests every day and treating each of them like they are his only customer.
He gives back by promoting the utility construction industry to young people. He tries to show them that construction is not a job, but a career where a professional can make a profitable living. He has established The Murren Academy- an apprenticeship program that takes four to five high schools seniors on an annual basis and places them in an environment where they can learn about construction and over a five-year period develop a craft. These crafts range from an array of professions including: Carpentry, equipment operating, diesel mechanics, pipe fitting and welding.
As an active member of the Georgia Utility Contractors Association (GUCA) and the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA), his committee involvement has included: Education committee chairman, safety committee chairman, industry relations committee chairman and membership committee chairman. It is through his attention to detail and his “getting it done” attitude with committee work that landed him the GUCA Committee Chairman of the Year Award.
He’s made the education and safety committee members more involved than ever before by promoting site visits for local high schools to construction sites so students can see the hands-on experience of what the utility construction industry is all about. Murren has found GUCA to be a great place to bond with other construction business owner and collectively work through problems that face the industry. He also sees the association as an essential medium where he can seek advice and learn from his competitors. Since joining GUCA in 1999, he has become more involved in the organization and in June of last year he was inducted as the GUCA president.“
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