Sharon Reynolds continues a family legacy of achievement, excellence, and entrepreneurship.
For years, scientists and government officials have warned the public about threats to the environment because of the rapidly growing population's consumption of limited natural resources and, instead, encouraged the use of eco-friendly products. As a result, many companies have opted out of developing products that contain harsh or toxic chemicals that may harm the planet and consumers; they've chosen, instead, to develop environmentally friendly products. Sharon Reynolds, president and CEO of DevMar Products, LLC in Nashville, Tennessee, has grown her company to be one of the leaders in providing environmentally friendly cleaning and safety products to help sustain the planet for future generations.
DevMar Products (a hybrid of Reynolds' two sons' names-Devin and DeMarco), distributes high-quality janitorial and sanitary supplies to companies for healthier work environments for employees, staff, and patients.
Before launching DevMar Products, in 2007, Reynolds, a fifth-generation Nashvillian, enjoyed a very successful 16-year career as a real estate broker. She was one of the youngest African-American owners of a prominent mortgage company at age 26, eventually becoming one of the top real estate brokers in Nashville and a relocation specialist for major corporations. Unfortunately, the real estate market crash during the Great Recession forced her to switch careers. "This whole economy was about to go under. So, I really had to reinvent myself. I said, 'Okay, so what is it that I can do,"' she says.
She didn't have to look far for an idea. Reynolds' husband, DeMarco, Sr., owns a janitorial and facilities management company, operating in four states. She recognized that there was a lot of momentum toward environmental sustainability and protecting the environment in that industry. So, she approached her husband with the idea to provide his company, Reynolds & Reynolds Facility Services, with environmentally responsible cleaning supplies.
"I had some pushback [from him] because he said, 'You're a young distributor and you're going to have to actually go to larger distributors to be able to provide the products that I need. I'm going to pay more, which will impact my bottom line,"' she recalls. "He was just like any other customer and I had to make sure that he wasn't going to pay more."
Shortly after, Reynolds was awarded her first major contract with the Metro Nashville Airport Authority. When the airport authority announced that the bid, required 20 percent diversity participation, Reynolds approached American Paper and Twine Co. (AP& T), who'd held the contract for 15 years, about partnering.