2023 Family Business Symposium Attendee Spotlight

2023 Family Business Symposium Attendee Spotlight – Monica Harrigill

Monica Harrigill, co-owner of The Sunray Companies, was one of 160 family business
professionals in attendance at the 2023 It’s All Relative Family Business Symposium hosted by
the Ole Miss Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Legacy Leadership Program.

Monica, originally from Mississippi, completed her education at Millsaps College and obtained a
Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. After graduating in 1988 at the young age of 18, Monica
embarked on her professional journey by joining her family’s business as a restaurant manager.
With her exceptional skills and dedication, Monica swiftly progressed to overseeing multiple
units and concepts. Eventually, she assumed the role of Executive Vice President at Jackies
International, Inc. and Certified Hospitality Corp, Inc., where she successfully managed a
conglomerate comprising restaurants, hotels, and convenience stores. Under her leadership, this
conglomerate expanded to encompass 70 locations and employed a workforce of 1,600
individuals for over two decades.

The Sunray Companies, established in 1996 by Monica and her husband Ray Harrigill, is a
comprehensive organization specializing in hospitality, retail, and real estate development. “We
started franchising restaurants before the opportunity to franchise Blockbuster stores became
available,” Monica said.

During the video rental era, the business thrived, and Blockbuster experienced rapid growth, with
Sunray’s opening multiple locations across the Jackson Metro area. However, as Netflix’s mail-in
rental service emerged as a strong competitor and Blockbuster failed to adapt its corporate brand,
Sunray soon realized the importance of diversification.

Today, The Sunray Companies operate brands including Palm Beach Tan, Massage Envy,
Hampton Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Home2 Suites and MY SALON Suite.
Monica learned of the Family Business Symposium from Melanie Dowell, Morgan Stanley
Executive Director, Family Wealth Director and Financial Advisor.

“I found the Family Business symposium to be extremely valuable,” said Monica.
Of the long list of takeaways from the event, The Sunrays Companies has already applied some
of them to their business practices.

“I loved the idea of creating your own terms sheet when you go to the bank instead of allowing
them to give you the terms and conditions. Also, when I heard one of the speakers mention
having a buy and sell agreement if you decide to go into partnership with another business, I
turned to my husband and said ‘oh we need to do that!’”

“Dr. Justin Craig’s speech was very insightful – he is super bright. I’m familiar with the John
Davis family business classes, but Dr. Craig broke everything down precisely and

Since the symposium, The Sunrays Companies has worked with Donna Bruce, partner at FORVIS
Wealth Advisors, LLC and Platinum Sponsor for the symposium. “I’ve already recommended the symposium to some of my peers and yes, I plan on attending
again next year.”

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