Kim Ganey Phillips: An Impressive Entrepreneur
Kim Ganey Phillips has always heard that we never really figure it all out career-wise. We are constantly evolving to suit the circumstances and our changing interests. Truthfully, Phillips wouldn’t have it any other way. This powerhouse of an entrepreneur has found a way to successfully pursue two very different, yet equally important, careers at the same time.
As a co-owner of Leland’s newest franchise restaurant, Charlie Graingers, and hard-at-work at a thriving insurance agency (Ganey, Byrd & Dunn Insurance Group), you’re more likely to catch up with her while she sprints between her two businesses, putting out fires and getting to know her customers and clients: all with a smile on her face.
From an early age, she learned what it meant to balance multiple obligations. Before she even graduated from high school, Phillips worked at two family businesses: Leland Insurance Agency and The Cookery. Both, she says, held their own individual appeal and served to foster an interest in their respective industries.
Spending after school, weekends, and summers working under the tutelage of her grandfather at the restaurant, Phillips says she learned to the value of hard work while cleaning and waiting tables. She also came to develop a touching fondness for the regular customers.
“Most people who were around here when it was open probably remember the yellow roof,” she says. “It’s torn down now, but we served good southern food that just worked really well with the area.”
When The Cookery closed after nearly 20 years of business, she says that it was natural for both her and her grandfather to try something different. For Phillips, that meant an introduction to a career in insurance. But at the age of 19, her father passed away while Phillips was studying accounting at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Phillips and her grandfather invested in a new insurance office themselves, using her newly acquired license to help others with their coverage needs. The problem with their venture, she says, stemmed from the prevalence of storms in the first few seasons after they opened up shop – like Hurricane Fran – that left the area in need of established agencies with well-known staff, and fast but comprehensive solutions.
“Companies don’t really want to talk to a 19-year-old after hits like that,” she explains. “The hurricanes that year changed the game for a lot of us in insurance, and some of us did well while others had to adjust the way we handled things.”
But after selling the office to Harold W. Wells in 2000, another agent took Phillips under his wing and ultimately introduced her to Charlie Graingers’ other co-owner, Frank Garrison. Not only did James E. Moore offer Phillips insight into the insurance world, but after a short break from the world of policies and claims following the death of her grandfather, he also helped her set up Ganey, Byrd & Dunn’s office with furniture and other essentials from his agency.
With the opening of Charlie Graingers on March 5 of this year, Phillips found herself in a unique position of managing two businesses that run in different spheres. But she says that with the help of a talented team (such as her co-owner Garrison as well as Phillips’ stepdaughter and the manager at Charlie Graingers, Brittany Phillips), there haven’t been very many setbacks during the transition.
“You have to have someone in there you trust; you can’t be there all the time,” she says of the decision to bring Brittany into the venture. The younger Phillips managed at Landfall Clubhouse for several years before taking this opportunity. “We’re both still learning as we go.”
One of the aspects Phillips says she particularly enjoys about restaurant work, perhaps surprisingly, are the hours. The restaurant is open every day, opening at 11 a.m. and closing at 8 p.m. every day except Sunday, on which the staff gets a bit of a break to shut down the restaurant at 6 p.m.
“It’s relatively small scale over there,” she says. “And it’s not strictly southern food on the menu, so the pace isn’t too bad, either.”
The selection may not be as quintessentially southern as The Cookery’s was, but Charlie Graingers offers a variety of favorite eats for visitors to Leland and the long-time locals, including hot dogs and southeastern-style barbecue.
But as much as she enjoys the pace and hands-on experience of getting to know the customers who frequent Charlie Graingers, Phillips clings to her insurance agency to experience other thrills and work-related satisfaction.
“I love selling insurance,” she explains. “It’s not easy to understand; people don’t just go home and read their policies. But I’m a competitive person, so I like the challenge that comes with getting the best rates.”
It seems that, for Phillips at least, some compromises don’t have to be negotiated to keep the peace between two careers. And while she says she’s well aware that sometimes there are good weeks and bad ones, she still finds balance and joy with like-minded collaborators.
And that is figuring it all out.
Want to eat at Charlie Grangers?
1110 New Pointe Boulevard, Unit 120, Leland
Want to get in touch with Ganey, Byrd & Dunn Insurance Group?
1110 New Pointe Boulevard, Unit 110, Leland