Monday, November 19, 2012

Discipline and Integrity: Skills from the Ball Field Aid Business Success

How many people do you know that can include teaching actors, Freddie Prince Jr. and Mathew Lilliard, how to play baseball as part of their college experience? If you do know someone, it's likely to be a ball player from UNCW, our camera-friendly university that keeps a lively pulse in the film community.

Former student athlete, Lee Grant '00, can accept this claim to fame, but after the tremendously successful decade he just had, this would be near the bottom of his list of bragging rights.

The grueling schedule of Lee's student years, between practice and classes, taught him discipline and time management. The organization and work ethic, as well as the integrity he infused in every aspect of his business, led Lee to gain fiscal success in his company, Coastal Chemical & Paper.

As owner and president of one of the fastest-growing distribution companies in the Carolinas, he built his business Steve Jobs-style, straight out of his garage. Now with two distribution centers, a sales team and fleet of delivery trucks, Lee sees nothing but growth in the future.

"My goals are to continue on the track I'm on," Lee shared, "adding products and growing until the market dictates otherwise. We're adding two new salespeople in 2013."

Lee, 2010 Young Alumnus of the Year
award recipient and his wife, Sommer 
Beside Lee from the beginning, is his wife Sommer, a 2001 Information Systems graduate who he met at UNCW while they were in their teens. Not only do they work as a team for the business, but they as strive to be role models for their three daughters.

"We know that our kids are watching every thing that we do and say," Lee said. "So we try to show them a good example."

As loyal supporters of numerous community organizations, such as Welcome Home Angel, the Landfall Foundation and the Andy's Foundation, they are role models for more than just their little ones. Lee is currently a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and chairs the Awards & Scholarships Committee. His passion for helping UNCW develop student athletes into professionals fuels his on-going support for the Seahawk Club. "The journey of being a student athlete, competing at a very high level and the lessons learned through that journey is something I really believe in," he said.

UNCW's track record of professional training is what led Lee to commit to being a Seahawk, turning down scholarships offers from UNCG, ECU, Elon and Campbell. However, one thing he'll never forget is how much better he ate while acting as a ball player on screen for "Summer Catch," versus their victory feasts while on the road with UNCW.

"If we lost, we got Wendy's, and if we won, Coach Scalf would splurge and take us to Golden Corral," Lee said. "I think that is still the status quo with him to this day."

UNCW Alumni Relations/Crystal George

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