2019 is a landmark year for Sunrise Marketing. We’re excited to celebrate our 25th year in business. What started as a basement enterprise has grown in areas I could have never imagined. As a creative writing major at San Francisco State I never considered advertising, let alone running a printing company (no experience), website development (didn’t exist) and mailing company (worked in sales for a letter shop for three months – thanks to Dillon Mailing). I did however put my college courses to work as Sunrise Marketing started by producing customized two-color newsletters for a handful of local Connecticut and Massachusetts garden centers. I would write the articles, scan clip art (remember that?) out of gardening reference books and take it to the printer for publication. Once that was done I would print the mailing labels on a dot matrix printer (remember those?) and finally combine the two on a labeling machine. I would then throw the bags of mail into my Ford Explorer and hustle off to the Hartford post office.
When I wasn’t producing the newsletters I was on the road hawking my goods. I have to smile when I think back to those early days. I must admit that Sunrise Marketing almost didn’t happen. I had made an agreement with my wife Ann that I had thirty days to get enough customers to match what I was currently making as a manager at a local garden center (thanks Steve and Ralph). I started on November 4, 1994 and by the end of the month I had twelve customers. Most of those were former accounts I had while selling grass seed for Jonathan Green (thanks to Barry Green). Well to make a long story short, I hit my goals and by January I was incorporated and setting up operations in the basement of our small house in West Hartford (thanks to Ann and the girls for their patience). Ann and the girls agreed to answer “Sunrise Marketing” on the house phone until 5 pm. There were 16 hour days, seven days a week, but it was an exciting, exhausting adventure.
Everything was new. The technology for desktop publishing was just coming online. The Internet and email didn’t exist yet and we were proofing the newsletter by fax machines (remember those?). My first equipment purchase was a HP scanner (on my Mother’s credit card – thanks Mom). Nearly all the other equipment I needed was begged or borrowed. Our logo was designed by a local art teacher (thanks Marsha) and the business was officially launched at a Friendly’s restaurant.
The first few years were a blur. I hired my first employee the following year and every year thereafter we doubled in size. We moved out of the basement and into an old factory building (thanks to Paul Sierra for the low rent). There were rough patches, successes and failures, but a constant was the support of you, our friends and customers. I also owe a debt of thanks to the many companies like Fafard, Espoma, Goldsmith Seeds, Prides Corner Farms and Imperial Nurseries (plus many more) whose support and cooperative advertising dollars saved our bacon more than once during the early days.
Times changed and we’ve had to change with it. Newsletters gave way to postcards (I owe a large debt of gratitude to Robert Hendrickson who came to me with the postcard project – the first of many, “…do you think you could” projects) and we were off and running.
The twenty five years have flown by, but I couldn’t let it pass without thanking all of you for your all the help and support over the years that helped turn a dream into a reality. I tell my employees all the time that we work for some of the nicest people in business helping to sell a beautiful product that makes the world a better place. It takes a lot of people and a lot of help to get a small business off the ground. We couldn’t have done it without you. I am indeed a lucky guy for these twenty five years. I’m up for 25 more if you are.