Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting is proudly celebrating its 30th anniversary, but the path to the company’s beginnings came about when owner and founder Dan Cunado and his parents were granted asylum from Cuba. They landed in New York and made their way to California.
With a family to raise, Cunado got a job in his trade, as an electrician. Tinkering in his spare time, he began experimenting with lighting fixtures. Working out of his garage, he developed six lighting fixtures and began to sell them on a small scale; his idea was to sell them direct.
Cunado approached an electrical distributor he knew with his designs. The distributor liked what he saw. It was the first time his products were making their way through distribution to electrical contractors. “It gave me an indication that I was on the right path, that I had finally found what would allow me to achieve my dream after so many years,” said Cunado. “Lighting was the path that I thought could take me there.”
But he didn’t stop at that; Cunado was on the lookout for ways to expand. One day, on his way to work, he noticed a wholesale distributor of irrigation and landscape lighting fixtures. That was how he met John Theisens from Carson Supply, who told him, “I like your product; it looks like it’s nicely built. But you have to understand, I’m already carrying three other lines. I’ll tell you what, leave your samples and if anybody asks about them, I’ll let you know.”
Cunado left the store in the morning, and by the time he got home later that afternoon, he already had several messages from John saying, “Where are you? I have people asking about your product.” That moment means a lot to Cunado. “That was the real, true beginning of Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting,” he said. “That store was the first distributor Vista ever had.”
Thirty years have gone by and Vista has continued to grow. With more than 3,500 distributor locations nationwide, and 220 employees, they are one of the largest outdoor lighting companies in the country. Their product line has expanded considerably to include all types of outdoor fixtures, accessories, and related electrical products.
However, care is still taken to manufacture all of their products in-house from the company’s factory and headquarters in Simi Valley, California. “Quality is what helped build our company,” said Cunado. “And we build our fixtures here in the U.S.”
Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting is a family business. Two of Cunado’s three children work in the company. Cunado’s brother-in-law, Cruz Perez, an attorney, was one of Vista’s first employees and is now the vice president of sales and marketing.
One of the reasons why Vista has achieved such success is that Cunado loves what he’s doing; it’s not unusual for him to come to the office seven days a week. “It’s not work,” he said. “It’s a labor of love.”