First Posted: 3/20/2009
With the changing economy these days, its hard to imagine someone working for the same company for nearly 40 years, but thats what David Taylor has done, and now he is ready to enjoy more time with his family as he retires from Lowes Foods.
It was 1969 when Taylor first started out as a bagger and stock boy at the Lowes Foods #11 that was on U.S. 601 where the AutoZone is now.
The store I first began in was 1,500 square feet. We didnt have a deli-bakery, it was a very basic grocery operation, Taylor said.
He said his dad delivered milk for Sealtest to the store back in those days, so he was good friends with the manager of the store.
He knew the store manager was looking for some help so he took me by there one afternoon after school and talked to the store manager. Two days later I started work, said Taylor, smiling.
He worked part-time at that store until he graduated from Mount Airy High School in 1972. He then went to work at the store full-time in the produce department for one year. He was promoted to produce manager in 1973. He worked in that position for four-and-a-half years before moving into the grocery managers position.
That was a key-carrying position. That was my first time of actually being in charge of opening and closing the store, Taylor remembered.
After one year in that position, he became assistant store manager for six months before the store manager at that location was promoted to a job at the corporate office. Thats when Taylor was first promoted to store manager in 1979.
I started out as a bagger and ended up as store manager before I left there, he said laughing. You just have to put forth the desire and the effort there are a lot of opportunities to grow at this company.
Taylor managed that store for four years before being transferred to the Elkin store as the manager for another two years. He then moved back to Mount Airy in 1986 to manage store #24 on Renfro Street. That store was behind the McDonalds on the post office end of the building, Taylor said.
In 1987, he opened his first brand-new store on U.S. 601 in the Forest Oaks shopping center. He remained manager in that store until 1991 when he went out on the road for a special assignment as a merchandiser for the company. He helped open a new store in Winston-Salem during that time.
Taylor came back to Mount Airy to open a new store #143 that was on Renfro Street beside the store he had managed earlier. He worked there until the new 55,000-square-foot store on Independence Boulevard opened in 2005.
Taylor said he absolutely loves the new store.
We have so much more space to work with. We offer so much more variety of products. There is a lot that we are able to do here that we werent able to offer at the old store. Its been a great move for us down here, Taylor said. Ive gone from a 1,500-square-foot store to a 55,000-square-foot store with a lot of others in between.
He now manages 100 employees, that is, until March 27 when he will hand the store over to Gary Largen, who is now the manager of the Lowes Foods store in Stuart, Va.
Taylor said he will miss the people the most both the employees and the customers.
Thats going to be the hard part walking away from the relationships that have built up over the years.
Of course, he said, it will be a different experience coming to the store as a customer.
It will be pressure-free shopping, Taylor laughed.
Taylor said he looks forward to retirement for a number of reasons. He will be able to take some time off to spend with his grandchildren and his family. He is especially happy about having his weekends free. As the store manager, he is required to work Saturday because it is the stores busiest day.
Retirement is something Taylor said he has been planning the past five years, although, he said, working for Lowes Foods for his entire career has been a pleasure.
Its just such a personable company. Everybody is on a first-name basis, from the president of the company to the newest bag boy. Its just a real personable place to work, and you feel the freedom to talk to your supervisors and to the people in corporate headquarters. One of the big things for me over the past several years has been to see peoples careers grow, knowing that I was maybe able to bring them on as a part-time person and then they stay with Lowes, then their career begins to grow. Its great to see peoples careers grow like that, he said.
Working in the grocery business has provided a stable life for Taylor and his family through the years.
Im glad Ive been in the grocery business my whole life. It has been very stable, and it has allowed me to raise three daughters and put them through school and get them started in life. I was able to give them some quality of life, Taylor said.
One of the things Taylor is known for is stepping in to run a register or bagging groceries.
People will ask me, how did they get you to work today? But thats the part that I really enjoy. Some of the administrative work is not quite as much fun, but its a necessary part of the job. I really do enjoy the customer relations that weve been able to build over the years.
As part of his community involvement, Taylor has been active with many charities. He said the store will continue to do all of the things it has in the past, he just wont get to be a part of it.
We try to do our part in the community. The community has been so good to us over the years, we just try give back as much as we are able to, with what resources we are able to work with, Taylor said. To me, that is one of the most rewarding things in life is to be able to help someone else, whether it be on a small scale or a big one. Just knowing that you are making a positive impact on someone elses life I mean, it doesnt get any better than that.
He said his parents wholly influenced him to be the man he is today.
My parents taught me early on to be a giver, and it stuck with me my whole life. I appreciate all of the things they taught me about how to treat people and how to be respectful and courteous to treat others the way that you would want to be treated yourself. I appreciate all of the years they took me to church. They gave me a good solid foundation for life.
He has been married to his wife, Linda, for 36 years. They have 35-year-old twins, Christy and Misty, and their youngest daughter, Tammy, is 31 years old. He has four grandchildren, Blaine, 12, Sydney, 7, Skylar, 4, and Dawson, 3.
I couldnt have done this job without the full support and encouragement of my wife, Taylor said.
For his retirement, Taylor is planning on taking a couple weeks off after his retirement to go to the beach. He is also hoping to play more golf, tackle some projects around the house and volunteer more of his time with the Mount Airy Lions Club.
To celebrate Taylors years of service to Lowes Foods, there will be retirement party at the store on March 27 from noon until 2 p.m. The public is welcome to join in the celebration.
Id love to see all my friends. I just want to say to all of my employees, current and former, I appreciate all of the hard work and dedication. I really appreciate all that they have done to give me such a wonderful career and make my job so much better. To all of my loyal customers, I really appreciate their patronage over the years. Without the strong team and without the loyal customers, I would not have been able to survive 39 and a half years. Its been a great run, Taylor concluded.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.