The entrepreneurial spirit is engrained in Ray Glymph.
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, his first business venture was like many child entrepreneurs.
“I was a kid and I had a gallon of water that I filled up. It was just tap water; there was nothing special about it,” he said. “I took it to the park and I sold it for fifty cents a cup. I mean, I made $1.50 and as a kid, I think that might've been what ignited me.”
It wasn’t a traditional lemonade stand, but the experience helped show Glymph he was meant to be part of the business world.
As a teenager and young adult, he developed a strong work ethic that helped him earn assistant manager and manager positions at several Brooklyn restaurants.
The jobs provided temporary fulfillment and steady income, but Glymph was searching for his true path in life.
Enter Morgantown and West Virginia University.
“I'm a transplant to West Virginia; I moved here originally for school,” he said. “I went to school at WVU for industrial engineering, but I actually dropped out to pursue my entrepreneurial dream to be a business owner.”
Noticing a lack of late-night fast food options in downtown Morgantown, Glymph established Morgantown Taco Truck at the age of 22.
“We served late night tacos, rice bowls and walking tacos,” he said. “It was a very good business, actually.”
The driven entrepreneur has since sold the taco truck and now, at the age of 30, owns several successful businesses – two sports bars, 4th and Goal and Scorers, two Get Fit Juices and Shakes locations and real estate in Morgantown and Pittsburgh.
The youngest of the bunch, Get Fit Juices and Shakes, was born out of Glymph’s fitness and health, as well as to address a need in the Morgantown community.
“In New York City, there are juice bars pretty much on every street and there was no place to really get a fresh juice in Morgantown, West Virginia,” he said. “I knew that there had to be a need and there had to be a demand that wasn't being met. Part of the entrepreneurial spirit is if you see a demand, the demand is the opportunity, you know?”
Glymph took the opportunity to envision and create a business that helps members of the community lead healthier lifestyles.
Get Fit Juices and Shakes offers a variety of fresh smoothies, juices and acai bowls made with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.
In addition to providing healthy drink options for the Morgantown community, it’s important the business promotes a healthy environment.
“We have a zero-waste policy, so all fruit, all vegetables, pretty much we use, whether we freeze it or donate. All our cups are recyclable and decomposable,” he said.
While it’s a small measure to help the environment, Glymph recognizes every little bit helps and is proud to lead the way.
“If we can do it, there's nothing stopping big companies from doing it,” he said. “I think us as a community need to demand more from these big corporations to make that change.”
Get Fit Juices and Shakes was named Morgantown Area Partnership’s Best New Business of the Year in 2019.
“Puts in perspective that we're doing something right; we're on the right path for the community,” he said.
And, this year, Glymph was a recipient of the State Journal’s Generation Next: 40 Under 40 award.
“I would say achieving that award gives credit to every business that I've done, now and previously. There's a lot of businesses that I've started, but am no longer part of, and I've seen the success in those businesses and it just shows I know what I'm doing,” he said. “It shows proof of concept, that the idea was a viable idea and it works in the community and it shows competency, being able to think through any idea and really fulfill it.”
The successes and awards haven’t come without challenges, and Glymph speaks candidly about those that black-owned businesses face.
“One is the lack of education and the lack of information,” he said. “I've made a lot of mistakes, whether on taxes or setting up an LLC. I didn't have many people to rely on and teach me that, especially in the black community, because most blacks don't know other black business owners and there are very few, especially in Morgantown, West Virginia.”
If he can help other business owners avoid those same mistakes, he will.
“I'm an open library. I have so many people now that come to me and ask me for advice on opening a business or starting a business and the best routes to go and I'm happy to help them, because I went through those struggles of not knowing how to,” Glymph said.
Recognizing community connection helps his businesses thrive, he makes giving back to it one of his top priorities.
“We grew up pretty poor and I always promised myself if I was given the opportunity to be successful, financially successful, I would give back,” Glymph said. “Every time I give back, I'll always see a tenfold return on it because the community is what really makes my business. The community is what really makes me. If you want to be a legend in your community, you have to give back.”
He’s participated in or organized backpack drives, food drives and fish frys all to better his community and the people who live in it. Glymph’s positive impact on the community was recognized when he was awarded the 2017 NAACP champion of change award.
“I would prefer to be known as the guy who gave back than the guy who took everything, you know,” he said.