Las Vegas businesswoman helps extend her family’s local legacy

Sunshine Ray grew up in Las Vegas and watched her father run their small family plumbing business from home.

Bob Ray was constantly on the move from job to job – often with the help of his young children.

“He would take us, and I would bring him a wrench or something,” Sunshine Ray said.

As fun as it was to call, Sunshine Ray had never seen the family business as her future career. But as fate would like, she co-owns Atlas Plumbing with her brother Rod Ray.

And that’s not the only company Sunshine Ray, 45, is involved in. She also co-owns a restaurant in Southwest Las Vegas with her husband.

“It’s okay to fail,” Ray said. “You have to be willing to take that risk. It was a nagging feeling for me when I worked for someone else. I know I wanted more, and I knew I could do more. “

That mindset is how Atlas recently expanded its offering to provide complete bathroom renovations. It partnered with Illinois-based BCI Acrylic, which manufactures bathtubs, showers and other bathroom products. Atlas can do the job in a few days, while many renovations take weeks.

Ray said that branch of the company has been so busy during the pandemic that Atlas – which has about a dozen employees – is ready to move to a more spacious building later this year.

“There’s all the craze right now with one- or two-day bathroom remodels, it’s just insane,” Sunshine Ray said. “With people sitting at home so often during the pandemic, they started looking at different projects they wanted to do.”

After graduating from Rancho High School, Ray earned a business marketing degree from UNLV before becoming a real estate agent.

However, when the Great Recession hit in 2008, things started to dry up, so she turned to the hospitality industry full-time.

It was in the old AJ’s Steakhouse, in what is now Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, that Ray met her husband, local chef Johnny Church.

She was a bartender and he the chef of the restaurant.

“At the time I thought all the cooks were crazy,” she said with a laugh. ‘He came to the bar one night after work and we started talking. We were friends for a while. That was now 13 years ago, and we had a great time together. I am well married. “

Church, 45, has worked with the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Charlie Palmer over the years at RM Seafood, Aureole and Eiffel Tower Restaurant. He also worked as a corporate executive chef for Golden Entertainment.

Church opened its own place last year, Johnny C’s diner. There is a lot of crossover.

Ray will assist in the restaurant, often on catering order, and Church has been asked to dig a ditch or two for Atlas. “It’s happened before,” Church said. “I’m a worker so I don’t mind.”

They push each other to achieve their goals in the business world. Ray even attributes to her husband for inducing her to take ownership of her father’s business.

“I knew she was unhappy as a bartender and that she wanted more,” Church said. “Financially she was able to take a step back and I took up some of that slack.”

Although Ray was already familiar with Atlas, a few years ago she began to delve into the inner workings of the business, specializing in the business and marketing side, while her brother ran the day-to-day plumbing services. She became co-owner in 2018.

When Church’s corporate job was eliminated in 2018, he relied on Ray for financial and emotional support as he prepared to open Johnny C’s.

“He had come to me with some other ideas (before Johnny C’s), but I wasn’t very good at it,” Ray said. ‘When he told me about this, I said,’ Let’s do it. ‘ It was good. When you enter Johnny C’s there is just a good feeling. People tell us that all the time. “

This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.

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