Imagine this — a young woman is facing one of the most difficult decisions of her life. Her father’s health is deteriorating, and he can no longer care for himself. She knew this day would come, but that doesn’t make her decision any easier. Can she take on the responsibility of being his primary caregiver, or must she accept that her father may have to live out the rest of his days in a nursing home?
David Ellenwood finds himself navigating these difficult decisions with families every day. In fact, it’s exactly because of these situations that he decided to open his business, Sunny Days In-Home Care. David firmly believes that no person should be forced to make a decision that doesn’t feel right.
Before starting Sunny Days, David worked for more than 15 years as a marketing expert in the home health care and surgical products industries. What he discovered while working for these local companies was a general lack of compassion in their business practices. These companies made decisions based on the bottom line, rather than stopping to consider the people who were actually using the products — to them, each client was just another dollar sign.
David quickly realized he didn’t want to be associated with a company or industry that puts profits over people. That attitude runs contrary to the values by which he lives his life. So, he made a decision to do something about it.
The Early Years
Armed with the last bit of his life savings, David took a chance and opened his own business. He was familiar with the risks of entrepreneurship, but his passion to build an ethical care-giving company trumped his worries. Despite the doubts of others in the industry and in his own community, David launched Sunny Days In-Home Care in 2011. He understood their skepticism at his dream to operate a business led by family-rooted values that could still achieve financial success, but he refused to give up.
In the beginning, David was the company’s only caregiver; he was the company’s only everything, essentially operating the business as a one-man operation. That didn’t last. Quickly, clients took notice of the Sunny Days difference — the compassion-led commitment to excellent care. The company grew so much during its first year that David had to persuade his wife, Evelyn, to quit her full-time job to join the mission at Sunny Days. Looking back, David says that was one of the best decisions he made for Sunny Days. His wife’s business expertise has not only aided in building the company, but her role in the business strengthens the family values on which Sunny Days was built.
The Industry Takes Notice
It’s their compassionate approach to business that led Sunny Days to become the fastest growing in-home care company in the country, as recognized by Inc. 5000. Sunny Days also joined another list of the country’s top performing companies in the Entrepreneur 360, boasting a three-year growth rate of nearly 800 percent.
Sunny Days stands proud of those accolades, but they come second to one of David’s proudest accomplishments for his company — Sunny Days now serves more than 200 clients with nearly 300 employees. The best part for David is, even amid that rapid growth, Sunny Days has always maintained the principles on which it was founded.
A business model built on the principles of compassion and family values isn’t one that’s frequently adopted, but it’s what has set Sunny Days apart. Though the company has only been in business for about six years, it’s developed a reputation because of those faithful values. One way David plans to continue building that reputation is by maintaining a family-owned business model.
When Sunny Days started franchising in 2015, with the hope of expanding its client-first business approach to people across the country, David’s son-in-law, John Bennett, joined the team to lead the operation. David’s and Evelyn’s daughter, Ashley, who is also John’s wife, is a part of the organization, helping with marketing and promotion to push the family-oriented environment of Sunny Days even further.
David’s hope is that when he and Evelyn can no longer manage the business, John and Ashley will step into greater leadership roles and continue to build the family enterprise, all while maintaining David’s vision of high quality, client-centered and affordable in-home care. Because every human being deserves to lead a dignified and independent life in the comfort and safety of their own home — at least that’s how David sees it.