David Ellenwood is a dedicated husband and family man. He has been married to his wife, Evelyn, for over ten years. He is the proud father of two daughters, Erin and Tina, and is proud to be called father by his stepdaughter, Ashley. David also has five granddaughters through these three young ladies. He has just recently added a third great-grandchild to his growing list of family members. He and his wife started a business called Sunny Days In-Home Care in 2011, that was created to serve seniors and disabled people in their own home. It is now one of the fastest-growing businesses in the United States.
David is also a dedicated servant of the Lord. One of his lifelong dreams was to be involved in missionary work. The seed was planted many years ago, but only in the last six years has he been able to see some of those dreams come to fruition. He has traveled to Guatemala on two separate, short-term mission trips for medical and building projects. David also began traveling to the Mathare slums in Nairobi, Kenya. There he found purpose in serving the children at AIC Zion church and school. In 2015, he became executive director of the board of directors for this mission field. He and Evelyn lend major financial support to help feed, clothe, and send to school 550 children in this ministry.
Tell me about your early career.
I have done a lot of searching in my life, as far as careers and earning a living. I could go on and on about the jobs I’ve had. One thing that has always been consistent has been my entrepreneurial spirit. I owned a plumbing business in the 1990s and into the early 2000s. I have been in medical sales positions, as well.
How did the concept for Sunny Days In-Home Care come about?
I worked in marketing for a large home healthcare company for a few years before starting Sunny Days. I was let go from that company, and because I was 58 years old, I felt like my market value was diminishing. My wife was working full time as a bookkeeper and we felt like there was something else we should do. When we were evaluating all of our options, starting our own business seemed to be the obvious choice.
How was the first year in business?
My first year was exciting, scary, BUSY, and full of new experiences.
What was your marketing strategy?
I had a lot of previous contacts that I revisited. I did quite a bit of personal advertising on social media as well. I went knocking on the doors of doctors and hospitals and senior living facilities. I did all of this while also doing all of the hiring, scheduling, and even a lot of caregiving for clients until I could get the people hired to do that job.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We did around $500,000 in the first year. We doubled our business each year for the next three to four years, so year two was $1,000,000, year three was $2,000,000, and year four was approximately $4,000,000.
How do you define success?
I define success on how well we are serving the people that depend on us to take care of them. I also define success on what kind of reputation we have developed as a company. Our growth is due to these parameters.
What is the key to success?
Hard work, honest, and integrity.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
That I’m not really in control. We believe that this is a God-given and God-directed business and He is in charge. I am the vehicle that needs to be open and obedient to His direction.
What are some of your favorite books?
Most books that I read are fiction. I am on the computer so much during the day that I do not have the time or energy to read like I used to. I hope to pick that up again when I cut back on my involvement in this business. I am trying to build something that is long-lasting for the future generations of my family.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
The hardest times for me are when I, or my company, am wrongly accused or treated by disgruntled individuals, whether that be an employee or a client. We treat everyone with respect and dignity, and hope they will do the same in return. That does not always happen.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
My family, my responsibility to my clients, and the 300+ people that depend on me to give them a paycheck every week.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
There is no substitute for hard work. You have to build a solid foundation so that it will withstand the storms that will inevitably come your way. I worked harder than anyone else, so now I can point to that whenever someone comes to me and says it is too hard. The example that I set forth has also set the standard for all others to follow.
This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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