Pro Sun Tanning Industries

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Posted : 12/01/1998

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Pro Sun Tanning Industries
Looking to the Millennium and Beyond

by Scott Hoover

The signs are everywhere pointing to the day of reckoning. For hundreds of years, people have pointed to the Millennium as the moment time will end. Apparently, no one told Gene Sanderfield and the others at ProSun Tanning Industries that this is the time to be living it up, not planning for the future. ProSun continues to look to the Millennium and beyond--whether opening its new 20,000-square-foot facility in Chicago or manufacturing and marketing its newest superbed, the flagship of its commercial product line, ProSun has set its sights on establishing itself as the one-stop shop for all ranges of indoor tanning equipment.European Roots

ProSun Tanning Industries, Inc. originally was introduced in the United States in 1995 under the name Hapro, its European counterpart. Founded by Tom Henkemans, president of the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based company, the name of the company was changed in 1996 for several reasons.

"The company name was changed to ProSun in order to introduce a name that Americans could identify with as well as to differentiate ProSun from its European sister company," says Gene Sanderfield, vice president of ProSun Tanning Industries. "Today, the company not only has stayed close to its roots--as it still receives equipment from Hapro, which still operates three facilities in Europe--but it also has established itself in the United States by manufacturing its own equipment at its 70,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in St. Petersburg."

In addition to its manufacturing facility, ProSun Tanning Industries employs 80 full-time employees and includes a 4,000-square-foot showroom and 15,000-square-foot receiving facility in St. Petersburg, a 20,000-square-foot distribution facility in Chicago and a soon to be opened, California-based distribution facility. As a manufacturer, the company carries approximately $2 million worth of inventory at all times so that when salon owners need tanning beds, they can get them quickly.

"By manufacturing our own equipment, it allows us to control product flow better than if we had to depend on someone else to manufacture the equipment and then send it to us for distribution," Sanderfield says. "In addition, because of the relationship we maintain with our European counterparts, anytime the company gets swamped here in the United States, we always can make a short trip to Europe and we are completely restocked again. In reality, we have four plants working for us at all times."

The first priority once the company established itself in the United States was to choose a dependable distributor group. "We had extremely good luck when the company first selected its distributors," Sanderfield notes. "Since then, the company has added in-house sales to its distributor sales. These groups do not compete against each other. The in-house sales force sells into territories where we do not have a distributor network. When a distributor comes aboard, they are given an exclusive territory as well as access to all of our contacts and advertising. Our goal is for all of our distributors and in-house salespeople to be the big fish in a small pond. We want our sales force to dominate whatever particular portion of the United States they are working."

There are a number of things that have contributed to ProSun's quick success. One of the most significant is how the company sets up and runs its distributor network nationwide. In addition, Sanderfield says the company's history also has contributed to the success story.


Tom Henkemans,
president of ProSun Tanning Industries.

"Since we have been manufacturing in Europe, the birthplace of indoor tanning, since 1979 we know how to make a European-looking bed with the type of results that our customers have come to expect," he says. "Additionally, because the company manufactures equipment in the United States, we feel we have a cost edge as opposed to an importer who sells to distributors. The company also has seen extremely fast growth in other business interests that has helped to solidify our foundation domestically."

Products for the Millennium

According to Sanderfield, what makes ProSun different from other indoor tanning equipment manufacturers is that the company offers a high-quality bed at affordable prices.

"We offer a full range of tanning beds, from a 10-lamp home canopy unit to a $35,000, 50-lamp VHR unit as well as solid lines everywhere in between," he says. "That is our biggest edge. If a new salon owner is looking to buy equipment for their salon, most times they will have to deal with a number of different companies in order to purchase the different levels of beds they want and need to be successful. Whereas with ProSun, we offer the entire package of tanning equipment so that a salon owner can deal with just one company."

Three of the company's newest offerings also are three of its best-selling products, including the ProSun 3090, ProSun 48/102 VHR Soft Power and the brand-new 620/SLi.

The ProSun 3090 includes 30 staggered lamps and nine facial lamps, including 16 100-watt Goldarium SR lamps and nine 25-watt, soft-power facial lamps in the canopy. The bench has 14 100-watt Goldarium SR lamps. In addition, the unit comes in three variations including no facial unit, a high-pressure facial unit and a soft-power facial unit.

"The ProSun 3090 is a very solid, workhorse-type unit," Sanderfield says. "It is made with an aluminum cast combi set and includes an acrylic click strip system. The wide flat bench allows customers to spread out and tan their entire body and also is extremely comfortable to tan in. In addition, the bed is designed with a solarium effect that gives it a nice cosmetic look. It works very well for salon owners who might have only four or five beds as well as for a larger salon that needs a sturdy, workhorse-type unit that will take the wear and tear day in and day out."

The ProSun 48/102 VHR Soft Power is a computer-controlled solarium with a new lamp configuration introduced just this year. The unit has 102 total lamps, with 28 140-watt CosmoLux VHR lamps and 54 25-watt LS soft-power lamps in the canopy in addition to the 20 100-watt CosmoLux VLR lamps in the base. Additionally, a counter-weighted spring lift system and custom-formed acrylic help tanners ease in and out of the bed.

"Upgrading is where the indoor tanning industry is headed," Sanderfield notes. "Workhorse units pay the bills; however, upgrade bed technology puts the Porsche in the parking lot. Many of today's tanners are white-collar people for whom tanning is a luxury item. These people are willing to spend more if the product is better. The ProSun 48/102 is an easy up-sell because the bed looks like it is worth the extra $10-$15 a customer has to pay to tan in the unit."

ProSun's newest superbed is also the flagship of the commercial product line. The 620/SLi consists of 54 lamps including 23 canopy 160-watt Cosmedico CosmoLux VHR lamps, six side tanning panel 160-watt Cosmedico CosmoLux VHR lamps, 21 bench 100-watt Cosmedico CosmoLux VLR lamps and four adjustable power level, high-pressure facial lamps.

"The bed not only offers an incredible tan, but its futuristic and ergonomic style is breathtaking," Sanderfield says. "In addition, the sophisticated and spacious interior acrylic reclining surface provides a comfortable ergonomic design with perfect back support."

The company offers a 2-year warranty on all of its equipment and continues to stay in touch with its customers. "The reason we are opening a regional office in Chicago and the reason we have our 14-member distributor network is to be closer to the customer," Sanderfield says. "When we have a bed that may need service in Pennsylvania, we have a distributor right there to take care of that customer. It is important to stay in touch with who your customers are."

A Look Ahead

Continually looking ahead and in an effort to stay close to its customers, ProSun is in the midst of planning another regional distribution office opening in California within the next few months. This, along with its already strong distribution base in the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast, will allow the company to strengthen its position within the indoor tanning industry.


Gene Sanderfield, vice president of ProSun Tanning Industries.

"We want to continue to be strong where our distributors are located as well as in our exclusive territories that we are concentrating on," Sanderfield notes. "Competition is critical; without it, our company would not be successful. However, competition also has to be fair. When people say bad things about a tanning bed or an equipment company, this hurts the entire industry. In addition, we have known from the first day we opened our doors that you have to take care of the customer or they will find someone who will. Today, salon owners are not just opening one or two tanning salons, they are opening three, four and five salons. If you treat them right the first time they do business with you, most times you will have the opportunity to do business with them again and again.

"In addition, salons have to upgrade their basic beds and move into VHR technology if they want to continue to prosper," he continues. "Tanning customers are becoming more knowledgeable and, therefore, salon owners have to be able to meet increased needs with improved products. With the upgrade technology now available, if you are not meeting these needs, then a salon down the street will. I have a bed in Tampa, Fla., that sells for $25 a session. If customers are willing to pay $25 a session in The Sunshine State, just think what they might be willing to pay in Chicago or New York."

By meeting the needs of the salon owner and offering an innovative and superior product, ProSun Tanning Industries will continue to set the pace for equipment manufacturers both now and into the next millennium.

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