Taylor's Do-it centers® are members of Do it Best Corp.®, a 4500 member worldwide cooperative of independent hardware retailers who band their purchases together to bring their customers the widest selection of products at the lowest possible prices. Together, they combine for over $2.5 Billion in buying power, and operate 7 regional distribution centers to get goods to their stores quickly and efficiently.
One Family Helping Others, Since 1927.
The Year Is 1927. The first talking movies hold cinema audiences enthralled. "Lucky Lindy" has soared to celebrity after making the first solo flight across the Atlantic. With much of the nation's economy "roaring," everything seems possible.
Even the sleepy little resort town of Virginia Beach shows signs of stirring. The grand Cavalier Hotel has just rolled out the welcome mat for its first guests and the oceanfront sports a new concrete boardwalk. Also new to the community - a promising little business located just one block from the beach. . . Fuel, Feed and Building Supplies.
With a grand total of $1750 in capital and an old Ford truck between them, a few men have decided to stake their futures on their belief that by offering excellent products at value prices (with superb customer service thrown in for good measure), they can make a place for themselves in the business community.
Celebrating 85 Years of Business
89 years later, that original coal yard and small warehouse has become Taylor's Do-It centers, one of the region's biggest home-grown success stories, with stores in 9 locations and a very impressive sales volume. As one of Virginia Beach's oldest retail businesses, this family-owned and run enterprise continues to be the destination of choice for homeowners who come to Taylor's expecting to find the same things customers have found for 83 years now: uncommon customer service, quality merchandise, cheerful expertise, excellent selection and competitive pricing.
At Taylor's, doing business the old-fashioned way has never gone out of style. You can trace Taylor's current policies straight back to the principles of the original founders - James Jordan, Audie Fisher, Edward Hardy, and Willard Ashburn, joined in short order by Robert Taylor.
Robert Taylor's son, Dawson Taylor, now Chairman of Taylor's Do-It centers, often reflects on the values they handed down. Dawson remembers his father as a man of warmth and gentleness. Robert Taylor came from a poor family in Portsmouth, but despite stopping school after the elementary grades he managed through sheer determination to graduate from a business college. A stint as a secretary/assistant to a railway executive gave him an insider's education on how to make a business work. It was a lesson that all the founders excelled at: hard work, honest dealings and the willingness to go the extra mile for a customer.
A Family Business
From the beginning, it's been a family affair. Dawson has fond boyhood memories of the times he spent hanging around the warehouse and coal yard, then later the 17th Street hardware store when it opened in the early 30s. "I'm sure my friends and I often made pests of ourselves as we played hide and seek behind stacks of roofing and cement," he admits. The fact is, a boy growing up in the 20s and 30s would have been hard pressed to find a more fascinating place in all of Virginia Beach to spend his growing years than Fuel, Feed and Building Supplies, Dawson believes.
All three of Dawson's sons have followed in their father's footsteps. Joe Taylor is President of the company, while Russ Taylor serves as Vice President/Operations Manager. Oldest son Bob left the helm of Taylor's to head Do It Best Corp., the member-owned hardware cooperative to which Taylor's Do It center is a member.
Like their father before them, this third generation all grew up in and around the stores, learning the business, and more importantly, learning Taylor's Golden Rule: "To serve our customers as we ourselves would like to be served." It's a business philosophy that worked well 85 years ago and is still working at Taylor's Do it centers today.
89 Years of Friendships and Giving Back to the Community
The founders, and each succeeding generation, have always been integrally involved in their neighborhoods and their region. Among them they have served terms in office as vice-mayor and on the school board, helped establish hospitals and healthcare facilities, sponsored community events, headed fundraising drives for charities adn community groups, garnered recognition awards from civic groups, given generously to worthy causes, and employed 100s of local residents over the years.
No Taylor would consider any of the above an "achievement." To them, it's just the right way to live and serve in your community. Dawson sums it up simply, "we will always remain grateful to our customers, our friends, who helped make our success possible."
89 Years and so Many Changes Later
Were any of the original founders to walk into a Taylor's Do it center today, the changes would amaze them. They'd search in vain for much of the inventory that once stocked their shelves. Gone are the horse collars, the hog vittles, the drawing knives and the coal.
Instead, they'd be dazzled by new inventions, technology and the size and scope of the hardware store today. Yet, the one thing that would make them feel instantly at home is the way they'd be greeted and served.
They would be pleased that the modest little business they began 85 years ago more than fulfilled the promise of their dreams - that if you work hard, treat people well and give back to your community, you can indeed make a lasting place for yourself.
Now, like their grandfather and their fathers before them, the forth generation of Taylors is learning the business, and of course most importantly, the Taylor's Golden Rule.
By today's standards, 89 years is a long time to remain in the same area, doing the same thing. But the Taylors wouldn't have it any other way. This is their home, their friends, their family, and the community they love and serve.