Jack Taylor trades utility
Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 20, 2001
pole for fishing pole
By JAINE TREADWELL
Many people climb the ladder of success.
But, not Jack Taylor. He climbed a pole to a successful career.
After graduation from high school in 1958, the Brundidge native came in off the farm, shook the field dust from his cap and
penned an application for a position with South Alabama Electric Cooperative.
He got the job as a groundman with the electric cooperative and accepted it proudly with the realization he, literally, had no place to go but up.
Now, some 40 years later, Taylor’s at the top of his game and he decided this is the best time to come down and enjoy a life of leisure, family, friends – "and fishing and hunting."
Today, will be the last official day on the job for Taylor, who has been the electric contractor for the
city of Brundidge since 1979.
"It’s time for me to step down," Taylor said with a smile. "And, I do it with no regrets. The career choice I made was the right one for me. I’ve always enjoyed the work that I did and I’ve looked forward to going to work every morning for 40 years. You can’t ask for more than that."
Taylor’s decision to take a break from the demands of a daily work schedule was influenced primarily by his health.
"Five years ago, I had open heart surgery," he said. "I had serious complications from
the surgery. When I woke up two months later, I was told I had ARDS – Adult Respiratory Deficiency Syndrome. Ten percent of open heart surgery patients are affected by ARDS and only 3 percent of them survive. I’m blessed, very blessed, but I don’t have all of my strength back, yet, so it’s just time for me to take life a little easier."
Taylor, however, isn’t retiring. He’s just backing off a bit. He will continue to work with the city’s newly created electric department as a consultant. The initial contract with the city is for two years and could be extended if his services are still needed after that time.
As Taylor hands over the reins of the electrical system to the city, he said there is no doubt in his mind that he made the right career choice for him.
"When you’re young, you never know how the choices you make will
direct your life. When you’re older, you realize how they did."
For Taylor, ever step was in the right direction.
He worked as a groundman with SAEC
for more than a year. Then, as a lineman and a service supervisor before being promoted to manager of member service in 1970.
"I enjoyed my work at every level, but I especially enjoyed being manager of member service," he said. "I worked in the field with consumers, helped design heating and cooling systems and also worked with organizations and clubs, such as 4-H. It was rewarding work."
In 1978, opportunity came knocking, but, at first, Taylor wasn’t sure he wanted to open the door.
Tommy Strother, contractor for the electrical system in Brundidge, had accepted the
position of CEO with Brundidge Banking Company and the city was looking for a contractor to fill his shoes.
"When the city approached me about the job, I was interested, but I also had some concerns," Taylor said. "I had been with South Alabama Electric for 18 years and they had a good retirement plan. The city had a retirement plan, but I wouldn’t be eligible because I would be a contractor. That disturbed me."
Taylor decided the benefits of being the electrical contractor for the city of Brundidge outweighed his concern, so in December 1978, he was awarded the contract.
The 22- year partnership has been a good one for both Taylor and the city. The city has only increased its residential and commercial rates once during that time and residents and business owners have become accustomed to outstanding service.
"I had dedicated, hard working employees who were always ready to respond to any situation," Taylor said. "I’m especially proud of the way our employees responded after Hurricane Opal. We were ready and waiting for Alabama Electric Cooperative to turn us back on. Our customers got their electricity back before almost anyone. We were proud of that."
In 22 years of "shooting the juice" to Brundidge customers, Taylor said the only disappointment is in the complaint department.
"People complain about their bills, but electricity is the best deal going," he said. "The average bill for a family of four is about $120 a month. That’s $4 a day and think what all you get for that. Staying cool or warm, depending on the time of year, is worth that."
Taylor said when a customer considers the other benefits of electricity – lights, hot water, stoves, refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, washing machines, dryers, televisions, radios, computers and dozens of appliances, there’s not a better deal anywhere.
"I’m proud to have been a part of making life better and more comfortable for people through the use of electricity for 40 years," he said. "I appreciate all of the people of Brundidge and thank them for letting Jack V. Taylor, Inc. be a part of their lives for all this time."
Now, Taylor will sit back in his rocking chair and give advice to the city when they ask for it, and just might give advice to his children and grandchildren – whether they ask for it or not."