Friends and Family
The heart and soul of Sun Ray Heating Inc.—five generations strong—goes beyond familial bond
The story of Sun Ray Heating, Inc., a five-generation success story with deep roots in the Chicagoland area and Northwest Indiana, is about more than the Sundeen family, which has owned and operated the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) business since 1938. Current owner, Dave Sundeen, is the fourth generation. His son, Jason (fifth generation), is a sheet metal worker who came to work there right out of high school. Dave’s two brothers, five nephews and a brother-in-law work at Sun Ray, too.
But you don’t last this long in this tough industry on a name alone.
A Dedicated Team in for the Long Haul
Dave is quick to point out that the company’s longevity and reputation is due in large part to a professional, dedicated team of employees, many of whom have been there for decades. He says, “Our story is about the Sun Ray family, not just the Sundeen family. Yes, we’re a family-owned business but it took a lot of other people to get us where we are today.”
While the company has always been owned and operated by the Sundeens, one of the things they’ve focused on is having steady employees. Currently, there are 28 employees, including 11 actual family members. One longstanding team member just retired last year after more than 40 years. Another worker just celebrated his 41st year with Sun Ray. Lorrie Tate, the Director of Accounting and Administrative Services, has been there 25 years, and knew the family before she came on board. Office staff have developed strong bonds with one another, some having worked together for more than a dozen years. The list goes on and on.
Putting Its People First
It’s no surprise that people who work at Sun Ray want to stay at Sun Ray given the company culture and the sense of camaraderie and appreciation that runs through the organization.
Lorrie explains that leadership goes above and beyond when it comes to making sure everyone has the opportunity to flourish in their career, enjoy great benefits, feel valued and have fun! “Beyond just the outstanding benefits package, we do some really fun activities throughout the year. Just a couple of months ago, we had a company BBQ pig roast, and we always have a Christmas party where everyone goes home with a generous gift and a bonus.”
Dave adds that they always look out for their employees, treating them like family and making sure they have the flexibility and support they need to balance whatever issues might arise in their personal lives—not to mention a fully stocked kitchen and a comfortable work environment.
Teamwork + Training = Success
One advantage to having such an experienced and close-knit crew is that everyone has each other’s back, whether in the office or on the job site. That translates into a strong work ethic and countless opportunities for mentoring. Lorrie remarks, “Being that we have some people who are very well trained and have done this for a long time, they take the newer employees under their wing, especially the apprentices and show them the proper way to do things. The Sun Ray way is for everyone to be proud of the job they do.”
The high-quality work and exceptional customer service the team provides is not lost on its clients, many of whom are repeat customers. Dave says, “We have some customers that like to use us because they know their job will get done, will get done on time, and that they’ll get quality work. Once we get in the door with them and we do a few jobs, they realize how good our guys are. I’ve almost never had a job superintendent or project manager call and complain about somebody. They’re more apt to call and ask if a particular worker will be on the job.”
Bottom line, this is not just a 9 to 5 or an 8 to 4. Life at Sun Ray proves the point that family isn’t always a blood line. It’s the people who support you and push you to succeed.