Like so many tanners in the early 1980s and ever since, Paul Manke’s tanned indoors for the first time because he wanted a base tan for a sunny vacation. As it turned out, the serendipitous introduction to the burgeoning industry was a life-changing experience, leading to a career that has now spanned four decades and a lifelong passion for the current Tanning Supplies Unlimited Vice President of Sales.
“My brother did and still does live in Brazil, so I was invited to go down and see him in the early 80s, and I went to one of the first tanning salons in Minneapolis. As I tanned there, I got to know the lady that owned it, and she asked if I could help with some hours there, and I would work for free tanning,” Manke says.
“I opened my first salon in 1983. I had four 24-lamp beds in a small little 800 sq. ft store. There weren’t timers. From that, we evolved to build five locations in Minneapolis called Golden Tan. They’re still there under another name. If my brother wasn’t living in Brazil, I’m not sure I would be in this business. What I do today is my love and passion, and here I am 40 years later still in the business.”
Manke also sold equipment while he owned salons, and in the late 1990s he transitioned out of the retail side and went to work full time for PC Tan, which was later purchased by Tanning Supplies Unlimited. Manke and PC Tan had success selling uwe and other tanning equipment, but the company got its big break in the early 2010s when they partnered with Germany sunbed manufacturer KBL. It was a win-win scenario, with PC Tan investing millions of dollars promoting the equipment and making KBL a household name in the U.S. tanning industry. As they say, the rest is history. Over the past decade, KBL’s continual innovation has been a principal factor in the U.S. market’s evolution and recent resurgence.
The first time Manke saw KBL equipment, he knew it was a game-changer.