Togal.AI's Patrick Murphy on going from Congress to construction

Image Courtesy South Florida Business Journal

Patrick Murphy didn’t always expect to work in the construction business.

Generations of his family have worked in the industry, going back to his great-grandfather. Murphy’s father, Thomas P. Murphy, is the founder of Coastal Construction Group, a Miami-based general contractor that has been in business for decades.

“My dad never pushed me to join the business, and insisted I follow my heart and dreams,” Murphy said.

That led him to Congress. In 2013, Murphy was elected to represent parts of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast in the House of Representatives. After four years in Washington, D.C., he moved back to Miami, joined the family business and launched Togal.AI, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to automate construction estimates. He is also managing director of Renco USA, a startup that uses interlocking composite building blocks to construct houses.

The following Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.

What were some of your favorite things to do growing up in South Florida? I was like any other young Florida kid. I loved fishing, diving, golfing, swimming, playing sports.

You served in the House of Representatives from 2013 to 2017. Why did you want to represent Florida in Congress? I was tired of sitting back and complaining about the partisanship surrounding numerous issues like the debt, climate change and health care, and wanted to do something about it. Florida is a great state with so much to offer but extremism was, and still is, hindering progress. I figured that since most of the issues facing our state and country were going to affect my generation, I better get involved and do my part.

What did your experience in Congress teach you about leadership? I was elected to Congress at 29 and was the youngest member at the time. I went into it extremely naive and thought moderation and common-sense solutions would surely lead to success. I quickly learned that D.C. does not work that way. I learned a lot about working with others, patience and overcoming obstacles. Democracy is all about compromise and not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good. Democracy, like business and life, is often about personal relationships and, unfortunately, those have basically disappeared in D.C.

How does Togal.AI’s technology help construction contractors? Before you can build any project, you’ve got to know how much it will cost to build. In the past, construction professionals had to manually measure and label all spaces and objects in architectural drawings to understand the cost and materials needed. That process used to take days, if not weeks or months. But with Togal.AI, the job is finished in just seconds, and with greater accuracy thanks to artificial intelligence. This frees up estimators to focus on higher-value tasks and grow their business by bidding on more work.

Togal.AI reports its revenue grew 940% in 2023. What do you credit that growth to? A combination of tougher competition, awareness, consolidation, Covid and other factors created an openness within construction to try new technologies. We have a great product that really saves a lot of time and drives efficiency. We’re on track for even stronger revenue growth in 2024.

Can AI help reduce construction costs? Yes. To give an example, estimators at Coastal Construction used Togal.AI to cut their workload by 40%. That saved about 10,000 hours of work, or roughly $1 million in a year’s time. This is just the beginning of how AI will impact our industry. We’re working on generative AI models that will analyze a massive database of historical information, while simultaneously accounting for all relevant code compliance and instantly generating a set of plans, schedule, budget and digital twin.

Where are some of your favorite travel destinations? One of my favorites is the Bahamas; it’s even where I had my wedding. I just recently returned from a trip to Thailand with the President’s Export Council and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

What was the last book you read? 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. This is the second book I read by Yuval Noah Harari and always find him thought provoking.

How does the AI work in Togal's takeoff software?

Togal.AI is a complete takeoff tool built by estimators, for estimators. There are three main built-in tools that use AI to help estimators save time and money on takeoffs:

1. The Togal Button
2. AI Image Search
3. Togal.CHAT

Learn More About Our AI Features
image of Togal's application with a floorplan layout screen