Contractor Ben Murphy Honored With FORTIFIED Home™ AwardAngie Lewis, Writer
Maria, Irma, Harvey, Sandy, Katrina: names that haunt millions of homeowners across the Southeast and Gulf Coast. These storms are some of the costliest Atlantic hurricanes the U.S. has ever seen, with Katrina and Harvey causing the most damage at $125 billion each.
After Katrina in 2005, many private insurance companies increased their rates, forcing thousands of homeowners to lose their coverage. Even worse, residents have no incentives to rebuild their homes to higher code standards — until the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety® (IBHS) introduced its FORTIFIED Home™ program in 2010.
IBHS, after conducting two decades of research and testing, created the FORTIFIED building method to help reduce damage to homes caused by hurricanes, high winds and hail. Through minimum building code requirements and system-specific building upgrades, FORTIFIED construction produces stronger, more resilient homes that can better withstand severe weather.
Ben Murphy, president of Ben Murphy Company (BMC) in Foley, AL, is one of many contractors who has become a FORTIFIED-Wise™ Professional.
In 2017, his company retrofitted 262 homes to earn them a FORTIFIED designation. As a result, BMC was honored with an IBHS Spotlight Award, which recognizes homebuilders who voluntarily embrace the program’s superior building standards.
Murphy says he wanted to get involved in the FORTIFIED program because he saw a need in his area to build hurricane-resilient housing.
Foley was hit back to back by Category 5 Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina in 2004 and 2005, respectively. The two storms caused more than $150 billion in total damages.
Climate change is believed to play a role in the increasing severity of storms.
“In the future, there may not necessarily be more hurricanes, but there will likely be more intense hurricanes that carry higher wind speeds and more precipitation as a result of global warming,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The impacts of this trend are likely to be exacerbated by sea level rise and a growing population along coastlines.”
The FORTIFIED Home program offers three levels of designation:
- Bronze – Upgrades the roof system to reduce water and wind entering the attic through the roof and vents
- Silver – Addresses doors, windows and attached structures (in addition to the roof system)
- Gold – Connects the roof to the walls to the floors to the foundation so the house acts as one system (in addition to addressing the roof system, doors, windows and attached structures)
Weather Or Not
Murphy developed an interest in construction while spending summers with his grandfather, who started a construction company in the 1950s. He began working in the field at 16 and then went on to graduate from Auburn University — the 16th-consecutive member of his family to do so.
In 2004, he became a general contractor and started BMC, which provides numerous services, such as commercial construction, new home construction, spray-foam insulation and roofing.
“I’m relatively new to the roofing industry, but getting to meet new customers every day and giving them a product that will last many years is my favorite thing about [that side of the business],” he says.
Murphy began using Atlas in 2016 when a distributor he’d worked with for 10 years started carrying its products.
“I tried Atlas materials on a house and quickly became sold on the quality and efficiency of them,” he says. “Also, we love the people at Atlas Roofing.”
When he’s not working, Murphy enjoys hanging out with his family, hunting and fishing, and spending as much time as he can at his family’s farm.
He finds ways to give back to his community too, such as coaching local youth baseball teams.
His company also financially supports many travel sports, high school and recreation league teams, sponsors golf tournaments for several charities and supports the Pleasure Island Junior Woman’s Club and All About Dogs Coastal Rescue. And BMC is part of a grant program that helps Murphy provide no-cost roofs to people in need.
Being involved and volunteering in their local communities can help contractors stand out. Potential customers get to see their company names, which can increase business and provide even more opportunities to give back.
Atlas Roofing makes giving back part of its creed as well. The company proudly donates materials to roofing contractors volunteering for charitable building projects, such as the St. Jude Dream Home in Wichita, KS, and a safe house in Georgia.
Likewise, Atlas partners with other organizations including Habitat for Humanity and StormScamHelp.com.
Whether donating materials, volunteering time and labor or simply donating to local philanthropic organizations, contractors with a community spirit can outshine the competition and brighten someone else’s world.