Co-Founders Clay Wraith and Eric Enright
What is CandleRay?
We are a company built on the enrichment of life and space through creative application of energy-efficient technology.
What inspired you to start CandleRay?
It was a combination of things. We both had personal goals to create a company that would have a positive impact on sustainability. Eric previously worked for both a solid-state lighting manufacturer, and a consulting firm, giving him a unique appreciation for lighting design applied to the built environment. We talked regularly about the lighting industry and the impact it has on so many different aspects of our day-to-day success. After a while he would mention some issues that frustrated him such as low quality products, misinformation, and poor lighting system designs. We both felt there was a better way to maximize financial and aesthetically benefits for end-users. This concept inspired The CandleRay Way: CandleRay’s core principles of effective design practice.
What makes CandleRay unique?
The short answer to that is the CandleRay Way. It guides a lot of our decision-making process. When designing a lighting system there are so many factors that need to be considered. Whether it’s a new building or retrofitting an existing structure, lighting can shape a space, change perspective, and define the architecture. This integral part of the building design process is often treated as an afterthought, and our goal is to educate our clients and facilitate the implementation of inspiring lighting ecosystems. The fundamental technological shift requires more demand for experienced designers. We want to encourage the industry shift from a biased manufacture perspective to a perspective focused on the end-user and final product.
Are you a Nashville native?
We both grew up together in a small town called Brookings in Southern Oregon. I first moved to Tennessee in 2005 to marry my beloved wife Dana who is from Carthage, Tennessee in Smith County about an hour east of Nashville. We spent a few years in San Francisco before we moved back to Nashville in 2009 to finish my Law degree at Vanderbilt. Once we got to Nashville we loved it.
Eric lived in Portland, Oregon and moved down in 2012 once we got CandleRay up and rolling. He is a big Music guy so he loves Nashville.
Nashville is being called the “It” city…tell us why you are loving Nashville, right now?
Well we both have a passion for music so it’s easy to fall in love with Music City. On a deeper level, I truly believe it is an important and unique place to be at this time during history. There are people from all over the world here everyday. People move here from all over. Bringing their own unique combination of business expertise, culture, art, religion, ingenuity. It has created a really amazing moment and I feel truly blessed to be a part of it.
CandleRay is an environmentally friendly company, what lead you to going green within the lighting industry?
We’ve always been really compelled by opportunities that create positive shifts in our society while also conveying a lot of monetary benefits. Most people that work with buildings realize that efficiency is a good idea, saves money, reduces maintenance expenses, increases the market value, etc. Lighting is a great place to start, but it can also lead to a lot of problems. CandleRay works with architects, end-users, and contractors to create functional and inspiring lighting environments for new construction. For major renovations, we will also conduct energy analysis and provide financial incentives for the TVA’s EnergyRight program. We are proud to be part of the TVA EnergyRight solutions program dedicated to helping businesses pay for new equipment that decreases their energy consumption. We work with similar incentive programs all over the country and although each is a little different they all have the same goal, lets help make smart choices that have real monetary benefits and significantly reduce our nation’s energy consumption.
3 things you love about NBIC that others may not know?
- First, we really enjoy our office space. We have a unique combination of requirements for CandleRay HQ. We set up some pretty advanced lighting demos and need tall ceilings, but we also prefer a professional setting to deliver C-suite presentations. NBIC could provide that for us in a very accessible part of Nashville.
- Second, we have really benefited from the accountability aspect of the NBIC program. Our mentors here have pushed us to follow up on goals and tasks that we have wanted to achieve. Having to stay current on all our internal financials has also really helped us understand what’s working and where we need to be to get to the next level. We’re enthralled in lighting design and our projects. The NBIC forces you to take another look at the business. Neither one of us has an MBA. So, we’re not professionals at starting a small business, we’re professionals at the lighting environment. The NBIC makes sure our business grows with us along with our professional skills. There is also accountability from our neighbors. We do business together and I get inspired by learning their stories. It’s really motivating to see entrepreneurs taking real strides towards achieving their goals.
- Finally, in the morning when we come into work, there is usually an amazing aroma of coming from The Grilled Cheeserie. I guess it’s some kind of crazy combination of bacon, cheese, and secret ingredients. I love it.
Is there one business resource or tip you would give to the readers just starting out in their business?
Make sure you get your ducks in a row. Especially legally. I know from my experience as an attorney that a lot of young companies don’t pay enough attention to their contracts, corporate formalities, state and federal regulatory requirements. Usually it isn’t a problem until it’s a big problem and the worst part is that often times it could have easily been avoided.
Is there one significant success/win over the last 6 months to a year that you would be able to share?
Recently we completed two highly successful full-scale lighting projects. Del Webb at Lake Providence is a resort-style active adult community where we designed a 25,000 square-foot clubhouse and several acres of common area outdoor lighting. Scepter Inc., an aluminum recycling plant in Waverly, TN, received a $99,000 incentive check from the TVA and they dramatically improved the light levels in their demanding, hazardous work space. When you can make a work place safer, help the environment, and make your customer a whole lot of money, it’s a success.
Lastly, what can Music City expect from Candle Ray in 2017?
We plan on continuing to grow with Nashville and raising our profile within the building and construction community. Our company has a lot to offer and we really look forward to getting involved with projects that can benefit from the CandleRay way. We also look forward to continuing our educational work with schools and non-profits. We believe that raising awareness about the ways lighting can benefit our community is an essential part of our mission.