Solariums' roots go back to a residential renovation
business that MacLaurin established in the early 1980's.
For several years, his sales force and work crews traveled
throughout Saskatchewan selling and installing vinyl
siding and windows. They also built decks and patios,
and installed a few solariums.
"We sold door to door," he says. "As
our business grew, we hired more sales people and more installation
crews. By 1988, we had about 15 sales people and about 35
installers on the road."
In 1989, one of MacLaurin's suppliers - a Calgary
based solarium manufacturer - asked if he'd be interested
in buying the business. MacLaurin was reluctant at first because
his company had no manufacturing experience. But from his
direct dealings with consumers, he knew there was untapped
potential in the residential solarium market.
"Consumers who spend a lot of money on
exterior renovations or landscaping want to enjoy their yard,"
he points out. "But the seasons are short, nights can
be cool and the bugs can be bothersome."
After raising enough capital to buy the Calgary-based
manufacturer through a community bond issue (a Saskatchewan
government-backed program), MacLaurin moved equipment to Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan and established Sunview Solariums Ltd.
By using his contacts in the home renovation
industry throughout Canada and the U.S., MacLaurin aimed for
national and international sales of solariums and related
products. It seemed logical to target other renovation firms
as his major market. After all, they were dealing with consumers
from coast to coast.