This is one story Mike Sessoms will surely never grow tired of telling. For the past 13 years, Sessoms has steadily worked his way up the company ladder at Ohio-based Glow Industries, climbing from an entry-level sales position to his current title as the company’s product manager.
And whom does he have to thank for his constant ascent?
Of all people, it’s his mother.
“It’s kind of a funny story, actually,” said Sessoms. “It was my mother who got me my first job with the company. My mom, Sue, owned one of those free magazines you see in grocery stores and places like that. She asked the owner of Glow if she could put her magazines in the retail stores that they had. While she was talking to them, they asked her if she knew of any sales people and she said, ‘Yeah, my son’. And the rest is history. At the time, I’m not sure if she knew the full extent of what they sold.”
Located in Perrysburg, Glow Industries is a wholesale importer, exporter, distributor and manufacturer specializing in soaps, incense, incense burners, Nag Champa and adult toys, like the highly popular Don Wand glass novelties. Glow has been in business for more than 30 years and boasts a customer base of some 12,000 buyers—not including chain stores.
“We started in the smoke shop industry in the mid-’70s,” Sessoms said. “At the time we carried novelty and gag gifts, but not the major stuff. We manufacture smoking accessories, pipes, incense, candles and tapestries. About six years ago we jumped into the adult industry with the Don Wand glass dildos. Since then we’ve branched off further with the Treeze wooden vibrators, the Kama Diva urethane vibrators and the Mr. Magic male enhancement pill. The plan is to continue to grow in the adult industry as well as the smoke shop industry. We’re dabbling in a little bit of everything; we import, we export, we manufacture, we have retail, and we carry a lot of other novelties other than our own.”
Glow has come along way from its humble beginnings three decades ago.
“It all started with a retail store they called ‘The Shed,’ ” Sessoms said. “Owner Dave Glowacki, whose son Jason now runs the business, did two tours in Vietnam, and when he came back home he opened what was a record shop at the time. After awhile he jumped into pipes and after that he went into the adult products. It started out as a smoke shop, but now it’s half and half. A lot more adult shops are starting to carry smoking accessories, which is one of things we’re trying to push right now because the customer base is built in. It’s a great fit for both industries.”
Known for consistent beauty and high quality, Don Wand glass dildos are handmade of Pyrex, known as a worldwide leader in top-quality scientific and medical-grade glass.
“The Don Wand product is one of our most popular items,” Sessoms said. “It has been a great line for us; they’ve just blown up. Everyone should have one. We started out with seven styles, and it has taken off to the point where we now have over 70 styles.”
New styles have built-in LED lights that flash red and blue, and all Don Wands are packaged in a clamshell with a velvet bag. Wholesale prices range from $9 to $18.
“At first everyone was concerned because they’re made out of glass,” Sessoms said.
“But at that point there was a lack of education from a consumer standpoint because it was such a new material. A lot of people thought it was going to break or crack and cut the person. But that’s not the case. It is glass, and glass can break, but we use borosilicate, which is more resistant to breaking than most traditional glass formulations. They can be warmed or cooled to your preferred comfort zone and they maintain temperature for an extended period of time. We’ve put a lot of effort into branding the name.”
Another hot item is the all-natural male sexual stimulant Mr. Magic product line.
“We’re also selling a ton of those,” he said. “We’re really moving them and we just launched that line within the last three months. And most importantly, it works. You can market something until you’re blue in the face, but if it doesn’t work it’s not going to sell.”
For more information, visit GlowIndustries.com.
This article originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of AVN.