C.J. Wright: Rock Solid on the Strand
C.J. Wright vacationed on the Grand Strand more than three years ago, ostensibly to visit his wife’s parents, who retired here. He quickly fell in love with the area. In March 2011, he says they decided to give up Colorado and head here permanently. “It’s beautiful, it’s green plus there is a beach,” he enthuses. “There are not a whole lot of beaches in Colorado, being a landlocked state – you don’t get that opportunity.”
Because Wright is from Longmont, Colo., a town north of Denver, we asked him if being just above sea level compared to 5,000-plus feet back home impacted him. “The biggest thing that I’ve had to adjust to down here is the humidity,” he says. “That’s been my biggest struggle because I am such a large guy – the humidity kind of pushes me over the edge sometimes – but when you can spend Christmas in shorts and a tank top versus dressed up like an Eskimo, that was a good trade as far as I’m concerned.”
For a time, Wright, 35, worked for a granite wholesaler in Conway until the operation went out of business in June. Fortuitously, another enterprise called Granite Express [ www.granitexpress.com] opened a location here in July. Wright interviewed with Granite Express initially for the position of driver, but emerged as branch coordinator.
“We’re actually the 10th of 11 branches for Granite Express,” he says. “We’re one of the largest distributors of granite and marble for countertops, bathrooms, tub decking and things like that.”
He says the majority of the stone carried at this branch and companywide is Brazilian. “We do have some Indian stone, Italian marble, African marble and some others.”
Wright’s responsibilities are keeping track of inventory – coming in and going out. “I deal with walk-in customers on a regular basis – people who are looking for granite for their kitchen remodels or new homes that they are building.” He is also in charge of scheduling trucks with loads to be delivered to area fabricators – from Myrtle Beach to Hilton Head and as far north as Morehead City, N.C.
“My mother hub in Miami sends me flatbed semis that have roughly 60 slabs on them. And my local trucks can carry up to about 14 slabs.”
He works on average between 45-60 hours a week. “It’s a lot of phone calls, e-mails and computer work as well as hands-on with the customers – and loading and unloading trucks. I do a little bit of everything.” He says he is not a salesman, per se, but is on hand to perhaps guide customers without pushing them.
At home, Wright and wife Katherine Wright stay busy with three children ranging in age from two to eight-years-old. Family time includes the beach. “We do a lot of picnicking and pier fishing,” he says. “We’ve gone around to a lot of the attractions here. Broadway at the Beach is a lot of fun for the kids.”
Wright has been involved as a competitor with the Scottish Highland Games, most recently in Charleston last year. “I do all of the strongman competitions – throwing cabers and heavy weights and stuff like that. We’re not quite the World’s Strongest Man – but we do a lot of the same kinds of events – just not quite as heavy as those beasts.”
Wright says he felt a little hesitant being a newcomer, but that quickly faded. “I met a new bunch of guys, and the people were very warm and welcoming. The guys I met down in Charleston came from all over the Carolinas, and they were awesome.”
He says a regular date night is few and far between, but when they get a chance you might spot the pair at The Melting Pot in Myrtle Beach. “We had one in Colorado. So usually my wife and I go to the Melting Pot. We’ll hang out a little bit on the beach at night together then go home, rustle the kids into bed and everybody sacks out.”
Wright says he is very happy here. “I gave up my mountains for the beach. I have not been disappointed yet.”