Celebrating 50 Years with Taylor Motors
By Jordan Venema
By Jordan Venema
Photos by James Mazzotta
IN 1968, Howard Taylor moved to a new community for a business opportunity, partnering in a dealership in which there was no guarantee for success.
“But he had to make it work,” says his son, Brent Taylor. “He had four little mouths to feed. He had to make hard and fast decisions.”
Brent’s sister Dian continues, “He left a wife and four small babies in Portland. Brent was just 4, and I was a year old.”
By 1969, Taylor moved his family to Redding, and now Taylor Motors is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Today the GMC, Buick and Cadillac dealership is a staple of the Redding community thanks to the elder Taylor, who recently retired.
“But he’ll never admit it,” laughs Brent. “That word is not in his vocabulary.”
There’s never a guarantee the second generation will carry their parents’ torch in a family business, but Taylor Motors had two torchbearers: siblings Brent and Dian.
Two of four children, Dian and Brent are both general managers at the dealership, though their other two siblings work elsewhere.
“Nursing was my sister’s passion, and my other sister’s husband is in the business but on the corporate level,” says Brent.
So clearly, Dian and Brent are the favorite children?
Dian laughs, “Maybe Brent, but not me.”
The siblings began working at Taylor Motors when they were young, “cleaning the store and things like that,” says Dian. “We knew we wanted to be in the business but we had to start at the bottom. We did janitorial and I ran parts, and Brent detailed cars.
“We were working here summers, on the weekends, after school.”
“We were pretty young,” agrees Brent, with Dian quipping, “it might not have been legal, but it didn’t hurt us any.”
In fact, those early years were probably what inspired both Brent and Dian to attend automotive marketing school in Michigan, which led to corporate careers with both Mazda and Honda, and Mitsubishi respectively. But in the early 1990s, both returned to Redding to work at Taylor Motors. Despite their differences, the brother and sister work well together, so much that they complete each other’s sentences.
“Dian and I, we are –”
“Polar opposites,” Dian chuckles.
“But in a really good way,” continues Brent. “We’ve worked well together for the last 27 years.”
“Actually, my dad and I are really similar,” Dian adds. “Headstrong, hard-headed, driven people, and Brent is more laid back. He’s more,” she pauses. “He’s kind. Though I’d like to think I’m kind, too.”
So if you’re heading to Taylor Motors looking for a car? “You need to see me,” quips Brent.
With such good rapport between them, it would be no surprise if Taylor Motors celebrates a centennial in another 50 years, so long as a third generation of Taylors rises to the occasion.
“I have a 14- and 16-year-old who both work jobs at the dealership,” says Brent. “As a matter of fact, my 16-year-old is in the collision center right now.”
Brent’s youngest, though, is the car enthusiast, he says. “He’s like me. He wants to hear V8 power.”
But according to Dian, the younger generation just isn’t into cars like her father’s was.
“My dad’s generation was way into cars,” she says. “But today, kids think of cars differently. They don’t look at them as the car that you polish and cruise with your friends, and race, and those kind of things.”
Which may be why 50 years of continuity in a dealership is difficult to come by.
“A lot of time the second generation is where dealerships die,” she says. “Plus, there’s always new stuff. As much as the business has been around, it’s always changing. Our dad saw the day when there were no imports in America.”
Today it’s remarkable for any business to reach 50 years, especially in the wake of a millennium’s worth of technological change and advancement packed into just the last 20 to 30 years. So it’s refreshing to find continuity in business, let alone among family.
Perhaps Taylor Motors’ success is thanks to the same headstrong quality that Dian shares with her father, a man whose vocabulary doesn’t admit the word “retired.” Or perhaps it has something to do with the Redding community, or even a softer side to the elder Taylor, which isn’t overtly obvious.
“He liked what he saw in a place to raise his family, and the loyalty, and he knew if he took care of them, they would take care of him,” says Brent, referring to the community and his father’s employees.
And just like the elder Taylor would never admit he’s retired, Dian adds, “he would never tell what he’s done in this community. There are stories and stories of people needing help, but the things he’s done, nobody ever knew.”
Both Brent and Dian recall stories of their father paying medical or utility bills, or contributing to college tuition, just providing help when and where it was needed.
“But he won’t admit to it,” says Brent. Even when people thank him, “he’ll say, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’” •
Taylor Motors • (530) 410-6816 • 2525 Churn Creek Road, Redding