A to Z owner calling it a career, passing torch onto children

Ron Light began successful career selling...

WEST READING, Pa. - Vacuuming is a task most homeowners have to tackle, and one man in West Reading is about to retire after 53 years of selling the machines that make all that cleanup possible.

Ron Light showed off his collectibles on the second floor of his A to Z Vacuum & Fan Store showroom on Penn Avenue in West Reading on Thursday. It includes everything from antique Coke machines to classic cars.

All of it was possible, Light said, because he made a good living selling vacuum cleaners.

"I felt I was doing a justice to the customer because they're getting a fine machine and a clean home," said Light.

At 20-years-old, Light went door-to-door to demonstrate the power of the vacuum cleaner. He said he still remembers his interview with Airway Sanitizer when the company first told him he just needed to show the product to three people.

"So, I said, 'Well, OK. At least I know I'll have $50," said Light.

It turns out, Light was a natural born salesman.

"The third day I went out on my own and I sold three vacuums. Instead of making $50 that day, I made $150," said Light. "I went home. I couldn't sleep and thought: this is just amazing to make money like this."

Light went from selling door-to-door to opening his first storefront in Reading seven and half years later. The A to Z name, he said, came to him by chance.

"On 1262 Church St., the painter was there, and I said, 'I don't know what to put on it,'" said Light. "I don't want to put Airway on because we're going to sell every vacuum cleaner from A to Z."

His success, he said, is also by chance.

"I would hate to be in the pay telephone business," said Light.

Light was inducted in the Vacuum & Sewing Hall of Fame in 1995. He said his bust sits next to Oreck's bust.

"When you like to do something, it's not that hard of work," said Light.

He's preparing for retirement and said he's ready.

"It's time. It's time," said Light. "Fifty years or more is plenty of time."

Light's children will soon be taking over the family business in a new location on Park Road in neighboring Wyomissing.

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