There were nearly 150 nominations for MDM’s Women in Distribution Awards, but NetPlus Alliance’s Jennifer Murphy garnered more nominations than anyone else.
Murphy, who is the fifth-generation family member to become president of the company that was founded in 1885 and first woman president, garnered a total of 20 nominations. Murphy took over full ownership of NetPlus from her father, Dan Judge, in January of this year.
After starting out at NetPlus Alliance in 2005 as a part time director of marketing, Murphy was named president in 2013. Judge started planning the ownership handoff the same year Murphy became president. He remains involved in the company as NetPlus’ chairman.
“She has always had a strong affinity for marketing and in 2009 became our Marketing Director and in 2010 she was promoted to VP of Marketing and COO,” Judge says in his nomination. “In 2012, she completed a one-year program at the University at Buffalo’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.
“She has taken our company to heights I never imagined. We are now a buying group with 400 industrial and contractor supplies distributors and 180 suppliers. She has created a talented staff of 13, with over half being women.”
Judge also pointed out his daughter has given back to the industry and her community by serving an active committee role with the Industrial Supply Association’s successful Women Industrial Supply Executives (W.I.S.E.) program as well as locally as a board member of the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier.
Shirley Weiland, assistant vice president of member services and events at NetPlus Alliance, said in her nomination that Murphy exemplifies all of the traits of a great leader, which shone through during the pandemic. With all of the employees working from home, Murphy orchestrated virtual team happy hours and sent employees snack gifts. For the company’s Christmas party, Murphy organized a virtual murder mystery event for all of the employees, replete with costumes.
“She strives to guide us to become the best versions of ourselves that we can be, and allows us to succeed, and to fail when it’s necessary so that we can learn and prosper and feel that we’re an integral part of our company’s success,” Weiland says in her nomination. “She is very well educated, open-minded, and nimble and sets the example for all of us through her own actions.”
Murphy got her start in the family business at an early age. When she was in middle school, she walked to the family distribution business — Ward, Beals & McCarthy, in Lockport, New York‚ after school to file purchase orders. She also spent many Saturdays running through the warehouse with her sister while her dad got caught up on work.
After college, she moved to Boston and worked at an international company overseeing its marketing and loyalty programs.
“In the fall of 2000, my husband and I decided to move back to Lockport to be close to our families and raise our children there,” Murphy says. “My father had started NetPlus Alliance in 2002 and he needed help with marketing. He was very flexible with my schedule so that I could balance my work with my kids’ activities. As my children grew and were in school full-time, he added new responsibilities.
“Before I knew it, I was managing the staff and operations, executing contracts, and hiring people to grow the company.”
Dan Judge founded NetPlus Alliance when he was 60. Murphy said her father played an active role in the Industrial Distributors Association (IDA). Between working part-time after school at the business and traveling with her family to IDA conventions, Murphy said she was exposed to the industry and the “great people” that worked in it at an early age. She cites her father as her primary mentor throughout her career.
Develop a Network
As for what advice she would give to women who are just starting their careers in the distribution industry, Murphy says women should know and recognize that their networks are one of the most important and valuable attributes in their careers.
“Cultivate, nurture and seek opportunities to grow it,” Murphy says. “As you continue the journey of your career, the people in your network will provide referrals and resources, as well as ideas and experiences to help guide and support you along the way.
“The Women Industrial Supply Executives (W.I.S.E.) is a network within the Industrial Supply Association that is made up of truly amazing women in our industry. Kathleen Durbin, our founder and former ISA President, brings a tremendous amount of leadership and credibility to our group and is always willing to share and support the women of W.I.S.E.”
A recurring theme among Murphy’s nominations is that she is a quintessential leader both within NetPlus and across the distribution industry. One nomination notes that Murphy is “a leader within industrial distribution by championing mutually beneficial relationships between suppliers and distributors.”
“I am proud to be the fifth generation, and first woman president, to lead our family business in distribution,” Murphy says. “I feel both grateful and fortunate to have a career that I love, in an industry with the best people and work with purpose every day to serve the member companies of NetPlus Alliance.”
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