Sunlight Supply breaks ground on new HQ

New facility at Vancouver port will consolidate staff of indoor-gardening firm

By Brooks Johnson, Columbian Business Reporter

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There was an adequate supply of sunlight Wednesday afternoon as Sunlight Supply Inc. broke ground on a massive $32.6 million headquarters at the Port of Vancouver.

“Morale is going to go up;,efficiency is going to go up,” said Craig Hargreaves, founder and owner of Vancouver’s 20-year-old indoor-gardening wholesaler. “It’s going to mean a lot for our company.”

Sunlight’s new digs at the Centennial Industrial Park off of Lower River Road will be a 306,000-square-foot mix of office, warehouse and manufacturing space.

The company’s more than 250 employees — many of whom attended Wednesday’s groundbreaking that included a champagne toast in a heated tent — are currently spread across five facilities in Southwest Washington.

Hargreaves said having accounts receivable and customer service in different buildings made things “less than simple,” and the new location will solve that.

Sunlight Supply is solely a wholesaler, with 5,000 indoor-gardening products sold to specialty retailers nationwide. (The company’s presence on Amazon.com is for dinged-up inventory clearance, Hargreaves said.)

The $32.6 million investment in Sunlight’s new headquarters marks another sign of success for the company that bought naming rights for the amphitheater at the Clark County Fairgrounds last year.

Hargreaves points to his company’s national presence through nine regional warehouses. He also cited an increase in Sunlight-branded merchandise, as another driver of growth.

As for whether Hargreaves thinks the burgeoning legal marijuana industry is affecting the company’s growth, he said he can’t know since he doesn’t deal directly with consumers — his “customers’ customers.”

Many marijuana growers cultivate plants in greenhouses.

He said there were no immediate plans to start selling to big-box stores like Home Depot or to ever get into the direct-to-consumer business, and that further growth of the company will come after the new HQ opens next spring.

The move was mainly spurred by Country Malt exercising a right of first refusal to take over a warehouse the two companies shared. That led to discussions with the port, which led to Wednesday’s celebration at Sunlight’s future home that included a blessing from the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater’s Rev. W.R. Harris and comments from Port of Vancouver officials.

“This used to be a dairy farm that for 50 years nourished the community,” port Commissioner Jerry Oliver said. “It is now nourishing the community in a new way with family-wage jobs.”

The commissioners unanimously approved the 15.5 acres for sale last year for $4.2 million. The port will not have the yearly revenue it could get from leasing the space, which brought complaints from residents when the sale was first approved in February.

Still, it’s one step toward filling the vacant land at the Centennial Industrial Park.

“We hope Sunlight Supply is the first of many who will occupy this site,” said Port of Vancouver CEO Todd Coleman.