On December 20, 2018, a plane registered to Sunshine Enterprise Inc. CEO Wei Chen crashed in the Atlanta area. Wei, John Chen, Bruce Pelynio, Heli Americas CEO and Danielle Mitchell, Controller, were all on board and did not survive the crash. Please keep the families and employees of Sunshine and Heli in your thoughts and prayers. MHEDA extends its deepest condolences to the friends and families of the victims.
Bruce Pelynio, President, Heli Americas (a Sunshine Enterprise company)
“Bruce was a true team leader. He loved his team at Heli Americas. He was there for his employees – not just as a boss. His door was open to them for any matter, large or small,” said Mike McAnnally. “Without doubt, running StepUp Scaffold alongside Bruce while he ran Heli Americas pushed me to become a better professional and a better leader.”
Bruce, along with Dobbs Management Services, founded Heli Americas in 2007 to become the distributor for Heli-brand material-handling equipment in the United States and Central America. Sunshine Enterprise purchased a controlling interest in Heli Americas in 2010 and Bruce then joined Sunshine Enterprise as president of the Heli Americas Forklift Division. His vision and leadership were critical to growing Heli America throughout the U.S.
Additionally, Bruce had over 35 years of experience in all phases of the materialhandling industry. His career involved management and ownership of Fortune 500 companies including Allis Chalmers, Maine Rubber International, Toyota Industrial Equipment and Yale Materials Handling.
Bruce was 65 years old. He is survived by his wife Laurie Lawler Pelynio; twin daughters Shannon Pelynio (Matthew Brady) and Kelsey Pelynio Stiles (Seth); sister Dr. Jan K. Richardson (Robert); nephew Ryan S. Richardson (Elizabeth Anne and their twins Brooks Robert and Lucy); and niece Kara J. Richardson.
Wei Chen, Founder & CEO, Sunshine Enterprise Inc.
“Wei was the true definition of the American dream,” said Mike McAnnally. “That’s how he should be remembered. I will be forever grateful to Wei for demonstrating to all of us at Sunshine Enterprise what a caring servant leader looks like and inspiring us all to learn and seek ways to be the best version of ourselves.”
Wei Chen was born and raised in Changsha, Hunan Province, China, and moved to the United States in 1995 at the age of 24 to attend graduate school. Wei founded Sunshine Enterprise, Inc. after he earned his International MBA degree at the University of Memphis in August 1998. He grew the company from a one-man operation to 400 employees in less than 10 years through organic growth.
Wei was 47 years old. He is survived by his wife Isabel Xu; daughters Elisabeth, Stephanie and Sabrina Chen; parents Xianjie Chen and Peiming Li; and brother Li Chen.
A memorial fund benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has been set up in Wei’s name. (Wei Chen Memorial Fund)
John Chen, Chief Operating Office, Sunshine Enterprise, Inc.
“John was the jack of all trades at our company. There was nothing he couldn’t learn or do,” said Mike McAnnally. “More than that, he was loved throughout the company for his selflessness. He was an incredible listener. He was patient with everyone. He was always smiling.”
John Chen helped Sunshine Enterprise start operation in 1998 at the early stages. After he earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Memphis, he held technology-related roles during a six-year tenure at Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW). He joined Sunshine Enterprise as chief operational officer in 2004 and headed day-to-day operations and e-commerce. John is credited throughout the company for leveraging his technology expertise and his deep understanding of both U.S. and China business cultures to create a well-run, respected operation at Sunshine Enterprise.
John was 44 years old. He is survived by his wife Jiali Gu; son Ian Chen and daughter Mia Chen; and father Liangqing Chen.
Danielle Mitchell, Corporate Controller, Sunshine Enterprise, Inc.
“From the moment Danielle walked through our door to interview with Sunshine Enterprise, it was as if she were made for the controller position in our company,” said Mike McAnnally. “It’s very hard in business to find people who are a great cultural fit and who are able to rise to the duties of their role from day one. Danielle was both. She was a born executive. And just like Wei, she had a tremendous zest for life.”
Danielle began her tenure with Sunshine Enterprise as Corporate Controller in September 2018. She was responsible for all financial reporting and transactions in StepUp Scaffold USA, StepUp Panama and StepUp UK Limited, as well as Heli Americas. She reported directly to CEO Wei Chen, whose vision was for her to become CFO of the company with time and experience. Though her time at Sunshine Enterprise was short, her intelligence and caring nature were felt by all and she quickly showed her natural leadership skills.
Prior to Sunshine Enterprise she held corporate financial roles at Signify (formerly Phillips Electronics & Phillips Lighting) and International Paper. Danielle graduated from the University of Alabama with her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Finance. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in her graduate class, the highest distinction available to graduates.
Danielle was 32 years old. She is survived by her mother, Jacqueline Shorter; father Daniel Mitchell; daughter Amaya Boyd; son Isaiah Robinson; daughter Carter Robinson; brothers Kwesi Mitchell and Shondriguez James; grandmother Minnie Graham; and fiancé Erik Harding.
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