MURRAY — Longtime Murray automobile dealer Dwain Taylor said Thursday that the path to being successful in something for 50 years is relatively simple.
“You just go to work every day. You’re blessed with a wonderful wife and family, good customers and excellent employees. That’s about it,” said the namesake of the Dwain Taylor Chevrolet franchise that has operated from the same spot along what is now South 12th Street for that exact number.
Thursday, community and business leaders, even longtime customers, came to his dealership to celebrate this milestone of longevity.
“I was looking up some things before today because I was curious to see how many companies have been in business for 50 years and it is really amazing some of the companies, even Fortune 500 companies, that didn’t last like Dwain has,” said Alli Robertson, the dealership’s inventory controller. “You’re talking names like Kodak and Xerox. That’s pretty spectacular when you really start thinking about it.”
“We had an official from General Motors here (earlier this week) and he presented us with our 50-year plaque, and he told me that was one of the first ones he’d seen up close. There aren’t many that are around long enough to get it,” Taylor said. “I think he said that maybe 2 to 3 percent of all dealerships might stay around 50, so that tells you this is pretty big.”
Speaking of big, Taylor received a surprise of that description Thursday when one of his loyal customers arrived just as a ribbon cutting ceremony was beginning. It was 97-year-old Helen Bostic of Fulton County, who has been a customer since Dwain joined his brother, Dan, at a dealership in Fulton in the early 1960s.
“He’s great,” Bostic said, remembering her first purchase after dealing with Dwain. “He sold me an old Ford car and it just ran like a top, and I’ve been buying cars from him ever since. It’s his personality. He’s very friendly and helpful.”
It was those characteristics that also led Dwain to succeed on perhaps the biggest deal of his life, the one that resulted in him marrying wife Mary. They married in the ‘60s after only three months of dating.
It started when Mary had a problem with a car she had bought from the Taylors in Fulton. That day, she came looking for Dan. She dealt with Dwain instead.
“It was a 1964 (Chevy) Impala and he wound up riding home with me (to her house in Fulton) from the dealership,” Mary remembered Thursday. “Well, I was getting ready to go to California because I was about to take a teaching job out there. Before I could go, Dwain asked me out and I said, ‘Why not?’ Three weeks later, we were planning to get married, and I got a job in Weakley County (Tennessee), which is not too far away.
“We were married three months later. It was that fast.”
Dwain opened the Murray business in 1969 and said the difference from then to today is dramatic. He said, back then, the dealership was actually outside of the Murray city limits in open country. Today, while it is still located at the bottom of a hill close to where 12th Street becomes U.S. 641 South, it is not alone with several businesses nearby and the actual city limits about a quarter-mile to the south.
It was before he took over the former Holcomb Chevy dealership that he met a parts department employee named Eddie Clyde Hale, who was very nervous about the dealership having new management.
“When you’re in a situation like that, you don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if you’re still going to have a job,” Hale remembered. “I mean, I had two little girls at home, so I was really hoping I’d be able to stay.”
Hale had nothing to fear. Dwain said he had known of Hale’s history as a hard worker and made him one of his first new hires. Hale stayed from 1969 through 2006.
“People ask me all of the time, ‘Well, what’s it like to work for Dwain Taylor?’ This is what I tell them. As long as you do your job, it was a lot like working for yourself. I did like it here. It was like a big family,” he said.