What had begun as a successful Grady-White Boats was somewhat less successful by 1968, as the company was a little behind the changeover to fiberglass manufacturing. At this time, “Glenn Grady and Don White were at the point of wanting to sell the company,” recalls Eddie Smith. One day, Eddie received a phone call. “I'd learned to fly at Chapel Hill,” Eddie remembers. “A guy there in the automotive business called me and said, ‘I've got sort of an emergency. I need to fly to Greenville and meet with someone. Could you possibly take me down?’ I said sure. That someone we met was Don White.”
Eddie Smith was energetic, 26 years young, and recognized what he believed to be an enormous opportunity. Here was a company with all the ingredients for Eddie to exercise his entrepreneurial instincts. Grady-White boats were an exciting, superior quality, outdoor-oriented product with a great reputation. This was Eddie’s chance to engage the business principles he’d observed from his father and taken to heart regarding customers, co-workers, integrity and quality. “My dad was supportive when I approached him to buy Grady-White,” says Eddie. “He knew I was burning inside to mark my own trail, and secretly he figured if he gave me a shot, that failure was inevitable and that I would settle down in the family business. After all, what did I know about turning a company around, or production, or anything about boat building?” Regardless of the reasons, the Smith family stepped forward and bought Grady-White in 1968.