Billy Grantz Interview
Starting out in the summer of 1980 and during the next 15 years of summers, Christmas breaks, construction jobs and numerous odd jobs, Cox’s Smoker’s Outlet & Spirit Shoppes owner, Billy Grantz worked as a twelve year old at his parent’s local drug store chain, Otto Drugs, learning the business from the ground up. His siblings also worked at the chain as well, but Grantz developed an affinity for liking all aspects of the business,including hanging out with the older people that worked there.
In addition to working at the drug store chain, at the age of around fourteen years old, Grantz secured a job as a paper boy delivering morning and afternoon newspapers, and collecting his routes money. Another side job included working at Our Lady of Peace, which probably really helped him understand certain aspects of working in the retail world!
All these work experiences unknowingly added to his retail and business education, well before most business school students enter college.
After a short stint at Western Kentucky University, Grantz eventually began working at the family business, getting more ensconced in the stores’ remodeling, expansion and going on buying trips to New York City for store merchandise.
Around the late 1980’s, after several mergers with other pharmacies, Grantz and business partner, Tom Kupper were first introduced to the concept of a tobacco outlet operation and opened his first store in 1995 in Okolona. Other successful locations soon followed and finally after adding premium cigars, beer, spirits and wine Cox’s has evolved into it’s present dominating position in the Louisville market as the place to go for a full line of tobacco products, including premium cigars and also a full line of liquors, beers and wine.
While Cox’s employs over 150 people, Grantz has carried on the tradition that he learned from his father as being a Louisville family owned and operated business in which they take great pride in customer service.
Grantz believes that his early years in retail helped establish his philosophy in that you treat people that work for you like family as well as the customers.
The discipline and strong work ethic that his mother and father instilled in him is what he looks for when hiring in any level position, whether it’s running a cash register or management. Self-motivation is huge for him at any level and for his employees to have a sense of ownership at the store level is key in the hiring process.
Advice for new college grads from Grantz,”…if you’re willing to show some responsibility, show that you’re willing to do anything that needs to be done and not be scared to fail.. this is the type of candidate that not only retail management is looking for but all types of corporate positions.”
Clearly a man who is self made, Grantz enjoys his time on the golf course and his time with his family, but what also is apparent is his love for the corporation he built from square one and going in on a daily basis to make sure all of Cox’s customers throughout the region get the best in customer service and choice of tobaccos, premium cigars, beer, wine and spirits!
His parents would be proud!