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Tom Murphy, CEO of Sonus Benefits

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Movers and Shakers

Five Influential Men Discuss Everything from First Cars and Favorite Drinks to Being Dads

We sat down with five influential men in our community and discussed everything from first cars and favorite drinks to best advice and being a dad. For this special Men's Issue--and in honor of Father's Day--here's what they had to say. 

Mike Swaleh

Fairway Independent Mortgage Area Manager 

What song do you sing when alone in your car?

Right now, it's a song I sing to my almost-2-year-old son Theo; it's “River” by Leon Bridges.

Describe being a dad.

It's the best and the worst and most wonderful and terrifying thing ever. Someone described it to me as wearing your heart on the outside of your body, and it absolutely is that.

Do you have a backyard barbecue playlist?

I have a killer playlist called “Smoked Manhattan.” It's a lot of R&B, Neo-Soul, Amy Winehouse, Leon Bridges, Anthony Hamilton, Ray LaMontagne…

Do you have a go-to drink that you make when you entertain?

I make over 100 different types of Manhattans. I pick and choose and pair ingredients together. I will mix whiskeys, bourbons, and ryes with different bitters, vermouths, and garnishes and then add variations of shaking and stirring.

What is your most popular cocktail recipe?

Have you heard of a Blood and Sand? It's a Scotch drink named after Rudolph Valentino's 1922 bullfighter movie. I make a version of a Manhattan called Blood and Concrete, which is a nod to the Blood and Sand and to the city of Manhattan, the original Concrete Jungle. It's the recipe everyone asks for. 

Blood and Concrete

2 ½ ounces Hudson 4-Grain Bourbon
½ ounce Cocchi Torino Sweet Vermouth
½ ounce Cherry Heering
2 dashes Orange Bitters
Luxardo Cherry garnish
Orange twist

Mix bourbon, vermouth, Cherry Heering and bitters in a mixing glass over ice and stir for about 10 seconds. Strain into glass over whiskey cube, then garnish with cherry and express the orange twist over the drink before dropping it in the glass as the final touch. Enjoy!

Tom Murphy

CEO of Sonus Benefits

First car?

When I was 15, I bought a 1972 bright orange AMC Gremlin called the Great Pumpkin. I saved enough money from working at The Donut Stop for two years to buy it and make it as cool as I could. 

Do you play an instrument? 

I don’t. However, I have a banjo that my daughters bought me because I want to learn how to play when I retire. It’s a happy instrument, and everyone smiles when they hear it.  

What do you pair a steak with? 

I’m going to start with a Jameson Black Barrel Manhattan and then pair it with a red blend, like Cooper and Thief. 

Best advice for your kids? 

My favorite phrase is, “You only have so many sunsets.” There is a specific spot on at our lake house where go and we don’t come in until the sky turns from purple and pink to dark. The phrase will be on my tombstone.

Favorite Dad Movie?

Because I have three daughters, it’s probably a tie between Steve Martin as George Banks in Father of the Bride or Brian Dennehy as “Big Tom” Callahan from Tommy Boy, which is my favorite movie, because he’s a big Irish guy and loved and believed in his son when others didn't.

Brian Pfotenhauer

Founder & President of Timberline Landscapes

Best advice your dad gave you? 

Be a leader but be humble. We are a lot alike. I like to be a leader, but not in the forefront. 

What is the most surprising thing about being a dad? 

Around the time I was graduating college and wondering what to do with my life, my father said, “Brian, the hardest job you will ever have is being a father.” My dad was right. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I try to be a good dad and ask good questions to engage in meaningful one-on-one conversations with my kids. 

What advice will you give your kids? 

I'll teach them the exact same thing my dad taught me. I would love for my kids to become entrepreneurs. Eva is 10, and Jack is 7. My wife, Katie, and I don’t shy away from having tough conversations with my kids about lessons in life and in business.

What do you do for fun? 

Snow skiing is my passion. I love going to the mountains any time of year. My favorite place to ski is Winter Park, Colorado. I also love sitting on our patio in Kirkwood, listening to country music.

Don Anderson

Founder and Owner of Anderson Building Company

What was your first car?

1961 Sunbeam Alpine English Roadster – British Racing Green with wire wheels.

What are you driving now?

A 1996 BMW Z3. I got it brand-new, and I won it. I went to Save-A-Lot for milk one night. They had the car sitting out in front of the store. They were about to raffle it off, and I asked, “Is it too late to put my name in the box?” They opened the box, and I dropped my raffle ticket in. And that was the one they picked. I’ve had that car ever since, and it officially became an antique this year.

If you were going to have a backyard barbecue, what would your playlist be?

The Grateful Dead, 10,000 Maniacs, and The Cranberries.

First concert?

King Crimson

Favorite concert?

Toad the Wet Sprocket

If you were at a trivia night, what category would dominate?

Everything but sports. I have a memory that is good for trivia. 

Jeff Daniels

President of Audi Kirkwood

First car?

1986 Honda CRX. It only took about $7 to fill up the tank, and I could run for almost two weeks. My parents wanted me to have that car because it was a two-seater. Despite that, I figured out how to get five kids in the car.  

Best piece of advice from your dad? 

The example that my father set for me was how he treated people. He’s genuinely interested in people and having conversations, and I think that is a lost art. It was something that my dad modeled for me that I hope to carry on as my legacy for my kids.

Do you play an instrument?

I just received a guitar for my birthday, so I’m going to learn to play the acoustic guitar. I have childhood memories of family and friends who would sit around campfires and play songs, so I’m looking forward to teaching myself how to play.

Favorite concert? 

James Taylor

Do you grill? 

One of my only talents in life might be making a filet mignon on the grill that rivals any steak house in America. I do the searing, the iron skillet with the sizzling butter. Pair that with any Silverado Trail Napa Valley Cabernet, and it’s a good party trick.

  • Mike Swaleh,  Fairway Independent Mortgage - St. Louis
  • Mike Swaleh's Signature Cocktail, Blood and Concrete
  • Tom Murphy, CEO of Sonus Benefits
  • Tom Murphy
  • Don Anderson, Founder/Owner of Anderson Building Company
  • Jeff Daniels, President of Audi Kirkwood
  • Brian Pfotenhauer, Founder & President of Timberline Landscapes