Generations of Grants serving the area

Published 12:23 pm Saturday, June 4, 2022

By Ireland Seagle

Special to The Farmville Herald

Have you ever experienced a cracked or broken windshield and had it repaired locally? Chances are, Grant’s Glass completed that repair. The Grant family, specifically three brothers, Stewart, Thomas and Jesse; and their mother, Joyce, began this local business in 1987 after experiencing financial setbacks. “They took a chance and invested $10,000 to get things going and never looked back,” said Casey Grant, president of Grant’s Glass.

When the Grants first opened their enterprise, two other glass companies also existed in Farmville. According to Casey, their family was told that Farmville was too small for three glass businesses; however, “my uncle saw an opportunity to branch out and open their own glass shop despite the naysayers,” Casey explains. Thirty-five years later, Grant’s Glass is the only glass business in Farmville.

Working for the original generation of Grants was not for the fainthearted. Thomas was the manager for the business, and Stewart was head glass technician. Jesse was lead carpenter and a jack of all trades. Casey, along with his cousins Adam and Jon, worked under their elder family members for years and remembers those times well. “You better be on time, if not early. If you were late more than 15 minutes, you were sent home with no pay,” describes Casey. The elder Grants held employees to a high standard and made sure their workers also knew what was expected of them in advance. “If Joyce “Nana” saw you standing around doing nothing, she’d make you clean the bathrooms and empty trash cans with quickness,” Casey remembers. Despite the rigorous working environment, Casey and his cousins are thankful for their experiences working under their older family members. “This time under them shaped us to who we are today, and we still use the values and practices they taught us.”

Casey associates this strictness with the elder Grants’ upbringing. They were raised poor and had to struggle and work hard for what they earned — and these values contributed to the business’ success. “When your name is on the front of the building, you had to make sure each job is done the same as if it were for yourself, no exceptions,” describes Casey.

Along with financial issues and local competition, Grant’s Glass has also experienced shifts in its management. When the Grant family encountered health issues in 2019, a younger generation of Grants — Casey, Adam and Jon, suddenly became part owners. Casey became the business manager, while Jon became head glass technician. Adam then stepped in as project manager. “Just like the previous three (Grant brothers) that had to find where each fit best within the business, Adam, Jon and I had to figure this out as well. We had to do it very quickly due to the circumstances we faced,” Casey explains.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, bringing both complications and advantages for the business. While Grant’s Glass faced a few coronavirus cases among staff, these instances did not shut down the business for an extended period of time. The enterprise also experienced an increase in business installing shields and barriers to prevent the spread of the virus. Grant’s Glass even worked on their single largest job in the business’ history in 2020 during the height of the pandemic.

Casey attributes their family business’ success to several factors, including their central location in Farmville that appeals to residents who do not want to travel to larger cities to receive service. Farmville’s unique status as a two-college town also brings extra business to Grant’s Glass. The business’ welcoming attitude and treating customers as family continues to create success for Casey and the rest of the staff. Finally, Casey believes the Grant family name helps stimulate business because “people from all over knew Stewart, Thomas and Jesse Grant.”

As for the business’ future plans, Grant’s Glass intends to continue sponsoring local athletics and charities, along with employing individuals from Southside Virginia. The business also plans to carry on treating customers as family. Casey and the rest of the Grant’s Glass team also aim to continue buying local rather than purchasing from big box stores that do not support the Farmville and Prince Edward communities.