Interview by Abernathy Cochran Realtor Chris Romberg
Meet Graham Williams! Graham is an entrepreneur and recently began Press On Paper with a few other partners in Gainesville. Press On Paper are paper products are designed to equip and inspire men to use their words for good.
“I realized over time that there isn’t a product in the industry that was targeting males and bringing back handwritten letters…when I was at a funeral one day, a man was giving a eulogy and he kept bringing up the phrase, ‘press on’ and he was referencing a Bible verse in Philippians 4 about forgetting your past and pressing on. The phrase ‘press on’ really lit a fire in me. I was going through a hard time and I realized that I want to be the kind of man who presses on during troubled times rather than just clinching my fist and that is where Press On began.”
Prior to moving to Gainesville, Graham worked with his family’s BBQ business; Melvin’s Barbecue based in Charleston, S.C. If you are a BBQ guru, you may have heard of the famous Melvin’s Golden Secret mustard based BBQ sauce.
We want to thank Graham for spending time with us recently and telling us more about his life and love of Hall County.
Question: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Answer: “I came from a family where both my granddads were entrepreneurs and at times they worked for other people but then they decided to go off and start their own businesses. So, I think just growing up, subconsciously, I saw that. My granddad was in the chemical business and sold chemical products in Habersham, GA and he was a very friendly guy, loved by many, and I had never seen so many people at a funeral as I saw at his.
“My other grandfather, Melvin, and his family started the (famous) mustard based BBQ sauce in South Carolina. He was a prisoner of World War II and escaped and became a workaholic. He graduated from college and started to open restaurants in Charleston with his brother and then opened up a restaurant on his own. When I was 7 years old I began working with him in his restaurant and I became a manager in training. I then went to work with my uncle in the BBQ business and I did marketing for his restaurant. But, it became clear that I was not interested in just marketing. He gave me the task of taking his sauce and building it across the country and creating a sales division. We ended up selling in almost every state. Then people starting to call me and ask me to help them grow their business.”
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Hall County, and what do you love there?
A: “Midland Station is my favorite, I love the furniture, the food, and the people. When we were getting our business off the ground, they let us use their conference room for a week and a half and I just love the people, they’re like family.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Hall County?
A: “The most influential person would be CJ Greene, I love her ‘say yes’ idea, she’s always looking to help someone.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A: “I would love to go to Indonesia, it has been on my mind for six years and I’ve never gone. They have surfing, great food, a lot of culture, and it’s very beautiful.”
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: “I would say the most impactful movie I’ve seen as a kid would be ‘Rudy,’ I think the spirit of not giving up is amazing but my all time favorite movie is ‘Braveheart.’”
Q: What is your favorite type of music? What are three bands you’d like to see, dead or alive?
A: “I’m not the biggest music guy but I like country music and I love the Christian rapper, Lacrae, and I’d love to go to an Eminem concert.”
Q: Choosing anyone non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch? Where would you take them?
A: “I would eat lunch with Francis Chan, an American preacher, or Jesse Itzler, an entrepreneur, author, and former rapper. I would for sure take them to Midland Station.”
Q: What is your favorite thing about Hall County?
A: “I think the people here and the mixture in a small town with a massive amount of potential and that’s why I moved back here.”
Q: Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?
A: “I would like to have grown some successful businesses and be helping people to pursue their dreams rather than letting their dreams die.”
Q: (Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: “Most people don’t know that I was in the inaugural group, the first group to go to North Korea to teach people how to surf.”
Q: What are three words or phrases that come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: “Good people, the lake, and good food.”
Q: What former or local business makes you most nostalgic about Hall County?
A: “It’s hard to not say Longstreet.”
Q: If you were cast in a major motion picture and you could choose anyone to be your co-star who would you pick
A: “I would like Will Smith to be my co-star.”
Q: If you had a full-time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose?
A: “I love leadership so I’d like to have a full-time coach!”
The Faces of Hall County is a project to showcase the amazing people that live or work in our community. If you would like to nominate an interesting person to be featured please email firstname.lastname@example.org.