When Grant’s field dreams failed to come into fruition, he shifted gears to launching his own company. Scalf believes Grant’s competitive spirit on the field and off, helped to fuel his penchant for goal setting and sales, ultimately driving Coastal Chemical & Paper to become one of the largest distributors in the Carolinas.

Although his mother and father owned a small chemical manufacturing company — selling mainly chemicals to area car washes — Grant wasn’t sure if the business was for him. He wanted something for himself. Or as he puts it: “I just didn’t know any better,” he jokes.

Instead, Grant began to formulate a plan to tackle the supply needs of car dealerships, detailers and auto rental establishments. He met with a jan/san re-distributor (“with no money and no credit,” he adds) and worked out a deal to sell some of its products. Then he turned to his parents for a little business advice.

“My folks said: ‘Look, you got to beat the streets and make the sales calls. Tell people you are new,’” says Grant. “Everybody has to start somewhere.” 

Heeding his parent’s advice, Grant made sales calls during the day, while his college sweetheart and fiancé, Sommer, worked full-time at a separate company. At night, she handled all of Coastal’s bookkeeping.

“I knew he could be good at sales because he attracts people — he can hold the room,” Sommer says. “I was excited for him.”

Grant started small, stockpiling foodservice disposables, paper products and degreasers in the couple’s garage, and delivering the products from the back of his 1995 Nissan Maxima, something that seems comical to the couple now.

It turns out, all that driving around led Grant to a game-changing epiphany.

“Really, while I was in all those places I was seeing opportunity,” Grant recalls. “I thought, ‘If we are going to be coming here we should start selling supplies for the entire facility.’ Once I got going, I was able to move into a mini-storage facility.”

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