Grant admits it can be difficult for a company to set itself apart from its competitors, especially in an industry like jan/san. It is even more difficult when the company’s owner has fewer years of experience than his peers. Previously, when Grant attended business meetings, he was always the youngest guy on the block. Today, he sees age as an advantage.

“A lot of contacts my age are coming into management roles or are becoming key decision makers in the community,” including in the jan/san world, he says. “Over the last couple of years I’m seeing and meeting some young owners, either second-generation or investor owners.”

For Grant, the key to his success has always been his relationships — within the cleaning industry and within his growing business community.

Grant serves on the board of the UNC-Wilmington Alumni Association and the Seahawk Club, which serves as the financial arm of the university’s athletic program. Coastal Chemical is also the presenting sponsor at the UNC-Wilmington’s annual golf tournament, and a participant in several area fundraisers for local charities.

That distinction, combined with the success of his business, has earned Grant a Young Alumni of the Year award, as well as coverage in a local business publications and magazines.

Grant’s achievements have taken him from a scrappy entrepreneur to a bona fide businessman.

“I think personally, he has had to work really hard to gain respect,” says Sommer. “The service that Lee provides…it’s a difficult thing for him to juggle on his part, but it means a lot to the customers. We still have his very first customer account ordering from us today.”

In spite of his success, Grant remains a humble man, she adds. At Coastal Chemical’s home base, she says the walls are lined with motivational posters and quotes from which he continues to draw inspiration.

Grant’s favorite?

“’Yesterday’s homerun does not win today’s game,’” Sommer says. “He lives by that, he really does.” 

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