Co-Founders Clay Wraith and Eric Enright
What is CandleRay?
We are a company built on the enrichment of life and space through creative application of energy-efficient technology.
What inspired you to start CandleRay?
It was a combination of things. We both had personal goals to create a company that would have a positive impact on sustainability.  Eric previously worked for both a solid-state lighting manufacturer, and a consulting firm, giving him a unique appreciation for lighting design applied to the built environment.  We talked regularly about the lighting industry and the impact it has on so many different aspects of our day-to-day success.  After a while he would mention some issues that frustrated him such as low quality products, misinformation, and poor lighting system designs. We both felt there was a better way to maximize financial and aesthetically benefits for end-users.  This concept inspired The CandleRay Way: CandleRay’s core principles of effective design practice.
What makes CandleRay unique?
The short answer to that is the CandleRay Way.  It guides a lot of our decision-making process. When designing a lighting system there are so many factors that need to be considered. Whether it’s a new building or retrofitting an existing structure, lighting can shape a space, change perspective, and define the architecture. This integral part of the building design process is often treated as an afterthought, and our goal is to educate our clients and facilitate the implementation of inspiring lighting ecosystems. The fundamental technological shift requires more demand for experienced designers.  We want to encourage the industry shift from a biased manufacture perspective to a perspective focused on the end-user and final product.
Are you a Nashville native?
We both grew up together in a small town called Brookings in Southern  Oregon.  I first moved to Tennessee in 2005 to marry my beloved wife Dana who is from Carthage, Tennessee in Smith County about an hour east of Nashville.  We spent a few years in San Francisco before we moved back to Nashville in 2009 to finish my Law degree at Vanderbilt.  Once we got to Nashville we loved it.
Eric lived in Portland, Oregon and moved down in 2012 once we got CandleRay up and rolling. He is a big Music guy so he loves Nashville.
Nashville is being called the “It” city…tell us why you are loving Nashville, right now?
Well we both have a passion for music so it’s easy to fall in love with Music City. On a deeper level, I truly believe it is an important and unique place to be at this time during history. There are people from all over the world here everyday. People move here from all over.  Bringing their own unique combination of business expertise, culture, art, religion, ingenuity. It has created a really amazing moment and I feel truly blessed  to be a part of it.
CandleRay is an environmentally friendly company, what lead you to going green within the lighting industry?
We’ve always been really compelled by opportunities that create positive shifts in our society while also conveying a lot of monetary benefits.  Most people that work with buildings realize that efficiency is a good idea, saves money, reduces maintenance expenses, increases the market value, etc.  Lighting is a great place to start, but it can also lead to a lot of problems. CandleRay works with architects, end-users, and contractors to create functional and inspiring lighting environments for new construction.  For major renovations, we will also conduct energy analysis and provide financial incentives for the TVA’s EnergyRight program.  We are proud to be part of the TVA EnergyRight solutions program dedicated to helping businesses pay for new equipment that decreases their energy consumption. We work with similar incentive programs all over the country and although each is a little different they all have the same goal, lets help make smart choices that have real monetary benefits and significantly reduce our nation’s energy consumption.
3 things you love about NBIC that others may not know? 

  1. First, we really enjoy our office space.  We have a unique combination of requirements for CandleRay HQ. We set up some pretty advanced lighting demos and need tall ceilings, but we also prefer a professional setting to deliver C-suite presentations.  NBIC could provide that for us in a very accessible   part of Nashville.
  2. Second, we have really benefited from the accountability aspect of the NBIC program. Our mentors here have pushed us to follow up on goals and tasks that we have wanted to achieve. Having to stay current on all our internal financials has also really helped us understand what’s working and where we need to be to get to the next level. We’re enthralled in lighting design and our projects.  The NBIC forces you to take another look at the business. Neither one of us has an MBA. So, we’re not professionals at starting a small business, we’re professionals at the lighting environment. The NBIC makes sure our business grows with us along with our professional skills. There is also accountability from our neighbors. We do business together and I get inspired by learning their stories. It’s really motivating to see entrepreneurs taking real strides towards achieving their goals.
  3. Finally, in the morning when we come into work, there is usually an amazing aroma of coming from The Grilled Cheeserie.  I guess it’s some kind of crazy combination of bacon, cheese, and secret ingredients.  I love it.

Is there one business resource or tip you would give to the readers just starting out in their business?
Make sure you get your ducks in a row. Especially legally.  I know from my experience as an attorney that a lot of young companies don’t pay enough attention to their contracts, corporate formalities, state and federal regulatory requirements. Usually it isn’t a problem until it’s a big problem and the worst part is that often times it could have easily been avoided.
Is there one significant success/win over the last 6 months to a year that you would be able to share?        
Recently we completed two highly successful full-scale lighting projects. Del Webb at Lake Providence is a resort-style active adult community where we designed a 25,000 square-foot clubhouse and several acres of common area outdoor lighting.  Scepter Inc., an aluminum recycling plant in Waverly, TN, received a $99,000 incentive check from the TVA and they dramatically improved the light levels in their demanding, hazardous work space. When you can make a work place safer, help the environment, and make your customer a whole lot of money, it’s a success.
Lastly, what can Music City expect from Candle Ray in 2017?
We plan on continuing to grow with Nashville and raising our profile within the building and construction community. Our company has a lot to offer and we really look forward to getting involved with projects that can benefit from the CandleRay way.  We also look forward to continuing our educational work with schools and non-profits. We believe that raising awareness about the ways lighting can benefit our community is an essential part of our mission.

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Abigail DaSilva
Abigail DaSilva is the marketing coordinator at NBIC, channeling her passion and creativity to support the organization’s mission of leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs. A proud graduate of Tennessee State University, Abigail holds a degree in design, which fuels her artistic sensibilities and impeccable eye for aesthetics. Before joining NBIC, Abigail embarked on her own entrepreneurial journey alongside her brother, where she spearheaded the sales and marketing efforts of their own venture. This experience honed her skills in strategic promotion, customer engagement, and marketing media. Abigail has played a crucial role in the company, transforming their media marketing strategies, specifically towards a more video-driven approach. Recognizing the power of visual storytelling, she has created compelling content and innovative campaigns that have amplified NBIC’s reach and engagement, strengthening their online presence and impact. Outside of her professional endeavors, Abigail is an avid art buff, frequently visiting museums and exploring immersive experiences that combine technology and creativity. She also has a deep love for travel, shopping, and anything that allows her to utilize her creative mind. With her unwavering commitment and broad range of experience, Abigail is a valuable asset to NBIC. She remains eager to push boundaries, elevate engagement, and empower entrepreneurs through her exceptional marketing expertise.
Anne-Marie Tanner
Anne-Marie Tanner is the Programs Coordinator at NBIC. With a Master’s degree in strategic marketing from Midway University and a Bachelor’s degree in design from University of Kentucky, she brings a unique blend of business experience and creativity to her work. Prior to joining NBIC in March of 2023, Anne-Marie worked as a small business and startup consultant, where she gained valuable experience in guiding entrepreneurs through the challenges and opportunities of launching and growing their businesses. Her expertise in strategic planning and her ability to quickly grasp new concepts makes her a strong asset to the NBIC team. As the Programs Coordinator at NBIC, Anne-Marie manages multiple components, including Foundations, E-Myth, Framework, and Groundwork. Anne-Marie values collaboration and strives to align her work with the vision and expectations of her colleagues. Beyond her professional career, Anne-Marie has a wide range of hobbies and passions. She is an accomplished Olympic weight-lifter. Additionally, with her husband, she started a medical clinic in Martin, TN, a brewery and events center in Paris, TN, and an airbnb property. Their goal is not only to build successful businesses, but also to provide economic stability and job opportunities to as many people as possible. With her extensive background in business, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her commitment to personal growth, Anne-Marie Tanner is an extremely valuable asset to NBIC. Her diverse skill set and positive mindset make her a catalyst for success, both for herself and the new businesses she assists.
Saturnie Antoine
Saturnie Antoine has been a part of NBIC since November 2021, serving as the R.I.S.E. UP Program Manager. She holds a Bachelor’s degree and has obtained a professional certification in coaching skills. With a diverse background in corporate work spanning over 15 years, Saturnie has worked in various sectors. As the R.I.S.E. UP Program Manager, Saturnie oversees the entire program. Her responsibilities include structuring the curriculum, sourcing speakers, and organizing the launch campaign. Additionally, Saturnie provides personalized professional coaching to the program participants, offering guidance and support to help them scale their businesses to $1 million plus level. Since the commencement of the program in March 2023, under Saturnie’s leadership, R.I.S.E. UP has witnessed numerous accomplishments and successes. Additionally, the program’s focus on emotional intelligence has helped participants navigate internal challenges and overcome obstacles inhibiting their growth. Outside of work, Saturnie values personal time spent with her family and loved ones. Her true passion lies in her role as a professional coach, where she finds fulfillment in assisting women on their journey towards personal and professional growth. Saturnie’s commitment to her clients and her extensive experience, coupled with her excellent coaching skills, allows her to provide comprehensive support to program participants, enabling them to achieve their goals and reach new heights. Under Saturnie’s leadership, the R.I.S.E. UP Program continues to flourish and make a lasting impact on the lives of female entrepreneurs.
Leroy Cunningham
Leroy Cunningham currently occupies the role of Community and Capacity Building Manager at NBIC. He holds a major degree in Business Administration from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, along with minor degrees in Accounting and Economics. Leroy’s prior engagement with business development consulting brings great strength to the NBIC team. He has worked at three of the largest market capitalization companies in the world – Emerson Electric, General Electric, and Berkshire Hathaway. In his current role as the Community and Capacity Building Manager at NBIC, Leroy wears many hats. One of his primary objectives at NBIC is to increase the number of small minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses qualified to undertake contracts from prime contractors and government entities. By fostering relationships with community partners and engaging with prime contractors and government entities, Leroy works tirelessly to bridge the gap and provide opportunities for these businesses to flourish. Additionally, Leroy dedicates his time to consulting with business owners, providing them with valuable insights and guidance. By helping businesses at their current stage and empowering them to reach their goals, Leroy greatly contributes to the growth and success of NBIC’s clients. Outside of work, Leroy indulges in his love for reading, sports, and travel. With his vast knowledge, dedication, and passion for community empowerment, Leroy is committed to making a meaningful impact at NBIC. His wealth of certifications and global business experience lends a unique perspective and expertise to NBIC’s initiatives, which will undoubtedly drive the organization forward.
Octavia Wilson-Simmons
Octavia Wilson-Simmons is the Special Project Coordinator at NBIC. With a background as a tank storage broker, Octavia acted as a vital liaison between storage terminals and cargo owners, facilitating contracts for the transportation and storage of products. Prior to NBIC, she also worked as a chemical operator at a chemical company, further enhancing her expertise in the industry. Joining NBIC in early 2022, Octavia initially served as an assistant to Angela before transitioning to her current position as a Special Project Coordinator. In this role, Octavia plays a crucial part in various projects, including MNAA and Elevate 615. She also provides invaluable support to the team, assisting with grants and streamlining processes to ensure efficient collaboration and coordination. Outside of her professional endeavors, Octavia is extremely family-oriented and cherishes family outings and spending quality time with her loved ones. Octavia is also a dedicated DIY enthusiast and seeks to immerse herself in various projects. Octavia embraces the opportunity to collaborate with the NBIC team, support Angela, and contribute to the company’s mission. Having witnessed the growth of businesses firsthand gives Octavia special insight into the entrepreneurial world and the hard work that goes into operating and expanding your business. With her extensive background in the oil industry and her unwavering dedication to assisting others, Octavia continues to make a positive impact within NBIC, among her peers, and within the entrepreneurial community as a whole.