The room is dominated by a large ping-pong table. To the left are a few computers and, on a chair, sits a small dog crate. Three small friends greet you upon entering: Skye, Patcha and Scout, the dogs that keep the energy of the room alive.
This is Sunglow Industries, East Coast distributor of infrared heaters.
Landing here two and a half years ago, Graham Reed has operated Sunglow Industries since his graduation from college in 2007. His sister Haley and her fiancé, Jared Knauss, joined Reed in 2015. Reed didn’t start Sunglow Industries though.
Back in the 1980s, Reed’s father operated a retail spa store with hot tubs. Part of the job was to attend trade shows to interact with clients, and it was there that Reed’s father saw the infrared heater, the product Sunglow Industries sells today.
The manufacturers were looking for someone to sell on the East Coast, so his father jumped at the opportunity.
Until Reed took over in 2007, his father was running Sunglow Industries as a side business. The company was small, and the market was just beginning. At the time, Sunglow Industries was being managed from a main warehouse in West Virginia where the space was being sublet.
When Reed’s parents decided to move to Florida, Reed returned to Newport News. A graduate of Christopher Newport University, he had always loved the area. The move brought him closer to his girlfriend (and now wife) who already worked in the area and he liked the idea of returning. “We like the city,” he says.
When Reed first graduated from college, the job market was soft so getting the chance to take over for his father was a great opportunity, he says. “Running your own business is a lot of fun; you have a lot of freedom,” he says. Reed spends his days taking care of client requests, filling orders and attending meetings.
Sunglow Industries provides its product primarily to commercial businesses such as restaurants and hotels, but Reed has also seen growth in the residential market. He says that as more and more people decide to build patios and focusing their outside living spaces as their main living area, they are turning to heating solutions such as infrared heaters to keep them comfortable. “Over the years outdoor living has become popular,” Reed says.
Reed explains that the business has been doing well, even growing. When he first started, about 10 years ago, only 10 to 20 percent of his sales went to residential customers and now it makes up almost half of their business. Reed enjoys the variability his business offers in working with his customers.
Sunglow Industries works with two major manufacturers. Reed’s job is to visit a client and provide suggestions for the best heater to answer the client’s need and space. It’s at this point that he gets to work with builders and architects. He then builds 3D models in Photoshop to best show his clients what they need. Reed also cites building codes not allowing for forced air heating systems as part of his business success as they sell the opposite. Reed says that his products heat objects and are much more efficient.
Reed is happy with his job. He enjoys spending time with his two children, Archer and Sloan, and doing a bit of surfing in his free time.
“I’m very content with this work,” he says. Reed thinks that Sunglow Industries will be here for at least the next five years before looking at the next business phase.
TO THE POINT
Sunglow Industries, Inc.
Contact: Graham Reed
Address: 11861 Canon Blvd., Ste. D,
Newport News, VA 23606