“My mother always had a big garden, and she had a lot of chickens, and I’d help her can,” recalled Marcia Taylor, proprietor and operator of one of America’s largest trucking firms. “My dad always had a lot of wheat, soybeans and corn, so I’d always help him in the fields. It was a great way to grow up.”
However all in Taylor’s idyllic small-town life was about to vary. “When I was 14, my father was sick, and he just got up and passed out, and right then he just died, and left my mother, my little brother Dwayne and I with a farm. It was just a devastating time for me. I ended up being the responsible one in the family.”
Taylor plunged headfirst into maturity, getting married on the age of 16. By 19, she was the mom of three youngsters. “My aunt told me to call the last one the caboose and let it be the end,” Taylor laughed.
The marriage, it seems, wasn’t a laughing matter. It produced youngsters, however not a lot of love and nurturing. “Neither one of us were really ready to be married, nor ready for the responsibility of having three small children,” Taylor confessed. “My husband started drinking, and it became a very abusive relationship both physically and mentally, so I knew I had to just get away from that situation.”
Not one to wallow in distress, Taylor did one thing about her circumstances. Some mates within the neighborhood owned a stake in a small trucking firm in Georgia, and there was a job opening there. Taylor jumped on the alternative, seeing it for what it was: a likelihood to begin her life anew.
“I knew nothing about trucking, but I knew it would be a way for me to get the children and move to a new location,” Taylor recollects with pleasure. “We loaded everything we had up in a truck and a 40-foot van, and all of our belongings took up about 10 feet of that van, and we moved to Georgia and moved into a mobile home, and I was able to file for divorce.”
She arrived in Georgia a single working mom with youngsters within the fourth, fifth and sixth grades. However she wasn’t alone. “My mother had not been in the best of health, so we called her and asked her to come to Georgia, live with us, and help with the children so I could really focus on work,” Taylor remembers with gratitude.
Taylor would go on to marry the person she labored for, and collectively, they labored arduous. In 1974, they made a enterprise guess that will change their lives. “In 1974, we had the opportunity to buy this little small trucking company with 15 trucks and 30 trailers, and we only had $500 in cash to start this business,” Taylor defined. “But they sold it to us on credit.”
It wasn’t straightforward making payroll within the early days, however after years of work, the couple managed to get the trucking firm they’d purchased onto stable monetary floor.
However Taylor’s life, already stuffed with tragedy and setbacks, was about to get the expertise the most important set again of her life.
Her husband, JD, had been a heavy smoker affected by emphysema, and he determined to offer a newly marketed remedy a likelihood. “So we went to this smoking clinic that was attached to one of the large hospitals,” Taylor recalled. The operation did not go as deliberate, and after a transient return residence, she knew one thing had gone fallacious. Very fallacious. She rushed her husband to the emergency room. He by no means returned residence. Taylor was as soon as once more a single mom, with nobody to show to for assist.
“So all at once I was left with this business, and this was back in the ’80s, and there really weren’t any women in the transportation business, certainly nobody running a trucking company,” Taylor mentioned. “I was really worried the bank would recall our line of credit because they didn’t trust a woman, and I had three small children that I had to take care of, and my mom. But I just had to put all my faith in God, that whatever was supposed to happen, he would see me through.”
Her religion in God was complemented by her religion in her workers. And theirs in her. “My drivers all gathered around, there were 30 people who worked here at the time, and everybody just said, ‘Look, we can do this,'” Taylor defined. “We just went to work.”
Her workand the corporate’s successcame at a value. She labored 60- and 70-hour weeks for a few years to construct what would turn into the biggest female-owned trucking firm within the nation, with practically $500 million in annual income.
“I feel guilty that I didn’t spend more time with my children growing up. I wish I could go back and change that,” Taylor mentioned. “My mom was there, thankfully, and she always made sure there was a meal on the table, that they got to the ball games, that they got to wherever they needed to get to, but I feel like I missed a lot. Now, I’ve gotten to work with my children, so I’m very fortunate that way.”
The household enterprise now consists of 14 completely different firms that do every kind of transportation, and has 3,200 drivers and proprietor operators and practically 400 completely different officessome exterior the USA. They transfer issues some firms will not, together with agricultural tools, rockets, and ammunition and explosives. Her firm can also be the biggest mover of manufactured properties within the nation. Growing these area of interest companies was a important half of the corporate’s development.
However what actually set aside Taylor’s enterprise from the industry pack was the tradition she created at her firm. The CEO and matriarch of Bennett Worldwide Group did issues otherwise than her male opponents, creating an atmosphere that nurtured her workers. And made them really feel like they had been familysomething not ordinarily related to the tough and tumble trucking industry. Certainly, her driver retention charges are the envy of the industry.
What Taylor was clearly most proud of was how her firm managed its workforce by robust instances, particularly the 1980s recession, which hit her industry arduous. She wished greater than something to keep away from draconian workers cuts, born out of a sensible enterprise sense, her expertise as a single mom and her deep Christian religion.
Taylor and her govt crew did not need to lose any of the deep institutional expertise in her operation that had taken years to domesticate, and knew it might be a aggressive benefit when the economic system rebounded to maintain her crew in place.
She additionally knew it might construct camaraderie and belief, one thing that Taylor valued greater than something. Reasonably than do the customary industry layoffs and work drive discount, she diminished ancillary bills, diligently watched money circulation and requested everybody within the firm to make small sacrifices.
“I’ve always believed that if you treat people right and give customers great service, the profits will come,” Taylor advised a native Georgia enterprise information outlet. “Our goal was to come out of the recession in a better place and we achieved our mission because our employees were willing to pitch in, which helped us avoid layoffs.”
Workers had been requested to take off sooner or later monthly with out pay, whereas the gross sales crew searched for brand new sources of income, and the administration crew scurried to streamline bills. The crew spirit was so sturdy, that workers with assets and safety helped their cash-strapped co-workers by volunteering to take off further days with out pay.
That Taylor occurred to be a lady, and a single mom, had a lot to do along with her govt choice making. Her decisions made her firm higher and strongerand because the economic system rebounded, they had been poised to take extra market share.
On the younger outdated age of 75, Taylor would not have any speedy plans to retire. “I firmly believe that you should get up every day and work to make a difference,” she mentioned. “I feel like I can do that here.”
A lot of Taylor’s satisfaction is discovered within the household ambiance she’s managed to create. And from the inspiration she shaped to offer again to her folks and the group.
“We started a foundation based on Christian values, where we give back 10 percent of our earnings each year,” she famous. “One of the things we do is we have a friend that runs a camp in Old Town, Florida, and we take a week, and we sponsor employees’ children and grandchildren, and we also sponsor kids that wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to the camp,” Taylor gushed.
What makes Taylor’s enterprise completely different than the others, in the long run, comes from her religion and the worldview it engenders.
“We try to use this company to help show Christian love. I definitely think that this is a ministry,” she mentioned. “It allows us to reach people we might not be able to reach otherwise, both through our foundation and just every day.”
Taylor’s story embodies the most effective of America’s virtues and qualities: grit, resilience, arduous work, religion, generosityand love.
There are tales throughout this nice nation like hers. Tales value telling. Tales value imitating.
Lee Habeeb is vp of content material for Salem Radio Community and host of Our American Tales. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, along with his spouse, Valerie, and his daughter, Reagan.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal.