Dream Big. Build Better. Live Well.
Business View Magazine interviews Steve Murray, President of Murray Homes, for our focus on the Construction Industry
Over the past two years, Sarasota Florida’s premier waterfront builder, Murray Homes, had seen a steady increase in clients looking for an escape from the big cities and a place to build their dream home on the waterfront. That number multiplied when the COVID-19 pandemic confined people to their homes in early 2020 – almost overnight, living in a densely populated metropolitan city lost its appeal. Murray Homes is making the most of this influx, helping to turn their clients’ dreams of Florida life into reality by combining high-end construction with high-end service.
Murray Homes is highly regarded as Sarasota’s waterfront specialist – a premier builder of luxury waterfront custom homes that exceed the expectations of their clients. Each Murray Home is built with meticulous care, using the most efficient technology, highest quality materials, stunning architectural design, and superior finishing. A strong track record of client satisfaction is testament to the “go-to” status of Murray Homes as the builder of choice for the Sarasota region.
In addition to building exquisite new residences, Steve Murray, President of Murray Homes, shares that they have branched out into custom remodeling. “We’re filling a gap in the marketplace by offering high-end renovations and remodels, which isn’t currently well-serviced by the construction community. When you live in a multi-million dollar home and you want to make improvements or changes, you need a professional remodeling company with office staff and all the systems in place to be able to manage a high end project because it’s pretty in-depth. And certainly when you’ve got more than one or two of these large projects, you end up with a lot of plates spinning and you have to be responsive, organized and professional. We handle that with pride.”
Murray Homes offers a unique answer to their clients’ needs, providing them with a home that is designed exactly around how they want to live. Attention to detail is key. Murray acknowledges, “We work hand in hand with best-in-class architects, sitting down with clients and listening to their ideas, then incorporating those wishes to create a unique design and construction plan tailored to their specific needs and lifestyle.”
A great example: clients from the northeast looking to escape the cold have a specific wish list to fulfill. “Like a lot of people coming from northern states, they really want to live and spend their time outside in the Florida sunshine,” Murray says. “So, they may opt for a modestly sized house, but they add an additional 2,500 – 3,000 square feet of outdoor living space, incorporating outdoor dining, covered spaces, large pool decks with tanning shelves, complete outdoor kitchens, fire pits, gazebos, etc. You almost create another entire house outside. Oftentimes we design from the outside in instead of from the inside out because we want to make sure that the primary reason why you’re coming to live in Florida is taken care of first, not last.”
Part of the reason the firm has been so successful in meeting their clients’ needs is the way in which they have structured the organization. Murray Homes relies on an in-house team of 22 professionals comprising field-based management, project management, supervisory management, and senior office staff. They then outsource to independent architects, designers, and specific subcontractors depending on the scope and scale of each particular job.
“We align ourselves with the very best architects on the Gulf Coast that are renowned for their creativity and aesthetic,” says Murray. “When you pull together a great architect, a great interior designer, and a great hardscape landscape team, and give them space to collaborate, you’re going to end up with something pretty special; the coordination and streamlining of that process is down to us: we assemble the team, we incorporate the design elements, create the construction documents, build and finish the home and then more often than not we continue the relationship with an ongoing custom maintenance program.”
Even the crews that Murray Homes contracts to work with when creating custom homes or doing remodels are tailor made for their clients’ specific needs. “We need a big team but that team changes from one job to the next depending upon style,” Murray explains. “If you come to me and say, ‘I want modern,’ I’m going to use a ‘modern’ team. If you say you want more traditional or West Indies architecture then we line up different designers that specialize in those elements. We certainly put a lot of time and effort upfront investigating who our clients are and the best way to service them.”
Steve Murray established Murray Homes just over two decades ago when he moved to Sarasota from his native United Kingdom. He recalls, “My dad semi-retired here and I would visit often and over time I fell in love with the area and the lifestyle. I went back and forth for a few years then decided to relocate here permanently in 1999. Originally, I set up the company to be a spec home builder.”
Today, Murray Homes has two divisions: Murray Homes, custom new home construction and high end remodeling, and, more recently, Murray Premier Services, which focuses on custom concierge maintenance for luxury and waterfront homes. “It’s really a spin-off from the homes that we build and the maintenance that we do for them,” says Murray. “It was so well received by our homeowners that we now offer the service for any custom, high end home, irrespective of whether we built it or not. Our MPS clients are typically living in custom waterfront homes, both new and older, who enjoy the peace of mind of employing a company to maintain, protect and enhance the value of their home. You can employ us to take a look at your house, do an inspection report, and give it a complete health check.”
Murray Premier Services will then undertake any of the maintenance work the residence requires, such as electrical, plumbing, tile work, roof, paint, jet washing, and MPS also oversees major renovation and remodel projects. “It’s like going to the doctor and having an initial health check to establish a baseline, and then returning every six months for a tune-up to make sure that you’re tracking ok,” Murray adds. “Florida houses endure intense heat and humidity, so they’re taking a certain level of punishment the whole time. Our guys go in, double check to make sure everything’s working as it should; that preventative maintenance ultimately saves the homeowners money because we pre-empt issues before they get serious.”
Murray Homes also offers clients help finding homesites to build on or remodel. Steve’s wife, Bev Murray, is a multi-million dollar top producer with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, and has over 20 years experience in all aspects of real estate procurement and sales. Her close ties with Murray Homes and knowledge of luxury construction ensure the very best advice for clients considering buying or selling land, waterfront, and luxury properties. In addition to being a recipient of the Chairman’s Gold Circle Award, Bev is a certified real estate negotiation expert (RENE), a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS), and a member of the National Association of Realtors.
The SLR Motorsports team – Murray Racing – is another interesting sideline for the company. Steve Murray notes, “While the racing team is mostly for fun, it’s also a great way to build up a positive company culture. It’s basically a team that is company-owned, company operated. We run two cars and one of my project managers is the other driver. My pit crew is anybody that can make it on a given weekend from the office that wants to come. It’s fantastic because it’s a team-building exercise. It’s fun and it’s something where we can let our hair down and enjoy it together.”
Back on the job site, the company is laser-focused on providing the best for its clients now and into the future. “I think the recent pandemic has really required everybody to think and reset and take a look at what they are doing and how they do it,” says Murray. “And I think we very much reacted in the same way so we sat down as a team and asked ourselves what we’re trying to achieve. Is it to be the biggest? The most expensive? The most successful? How do we define that? And what does all that mean?
“I think for me, personally, in running a business I’m looking to set up a structure and a company that offers something that many other people don’t – a high level of quality, high level of integrity, a high level of delivery in everything that we do, and for that to be sustainable moving into the future. Our reputation is exemplary and remain true to our mantra – Dream Big. Build Better. Live Well.”