In 1841, aboard a small ship called the Russell Glover, John Taylor (1794-1875), his wife Dinah Raikes, and their six children—including our founder John Rex (Raikes→ Reakes→ Rex) Taylor—emigrated from Bath, England to the United States, arriving in New Orleans in March. From this popular immigrant port, the Taylors made their way up the Mississippi River to the bustling river town of Cincinnati, Ohio where John Rex Taylor assiduously began his business (before 1850, but who’s counting?) with a horse and wagon, delivering goods to and from the Miami and Erie Canal—the engineering marvel which ran from Toledo to Cincinnati, providing goods from as far as New York City. He named his business the Taylor Drayage Company, thus creating the point from which we trace our values, vision, and culture.
Soon after, John Taylor joined his son in the business. The 1860 census shows John Taylor as ‘Drayman’ and John Rex Taylor as ‘Laborer.’ For reasons unknown, John Rex Taylor and his wife moved to Wisconsin for a few years (most likely to start a new terminal for the business) but soon returned to find John Taylor in charge of the Taylor Drayage Company. Along with his father and son Edward, John Rex Taylor operated the business as a family affair, the same way we do today.
In the early 1900s, Edward took over the business, adding larger and stronger wagons, pulled by two or more horses, called ‘teamsters.’ The 1910 census shows Edward as ‘Team Owner.’ However, the increasingly viable motor truck put the horse and wagon at risk and it was during this time that Edward was succeeded by his son, John Rex Taylor III.
During the ‘Horseless Age,’ John Rex Taylor III steered the company through disruptive technological advances, economic turmoil, and strict government regulations. The change to motor trucks brought the decline of the Miami and Erie Canal canal—an important route to the Taylor Drayage Company—and the rise of the rails, spurring two important events: a move closer to the railroads and a change of the name to the Taylor Trucking Company. During this time, our three largest customers were Oscar Meyer, Swift, and Planter’s Peanuts. To this day our market focus is food.
John Rex Taylor III kept the company steady, effective, and innovative in the midst of this major change in American commerce and transportation, along with the dangers of the Great Depression and the Motor Carrier Act of 1935. Because of this act, today we boast the Motor Carrier number 022276, a true testament to our longstanding history in the Cincinnati transportation business. John Rex Taylor III’s legacy teaches us that ultimately, effectiveness trumps efficiency. No amount of efficiency in horse drawn wagons would have allowed us to stay in business. Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right thing.
Bringing the company through the mid-century was John Rex Taylor III’s son, John Rex Taylor IV; or, Jack Taylor. Jack was the family’s first college graduate (Indiana University, 1949) and a proud member of General Patton’s Third Army in Europe. With the addition of warehousing, the company name changed again, this time to its current Taylor Distributing Company. With customers like Jolly Rancher, York Candies, M&M Candies, and Vicks Cold Medicine, Taylor continued its dedication to food storage during a boom in the Candy industry. Jack Taylor also saw a major change in the development of Warehouse Management Systems. In the beginning, inventory control was done manually. Jack kept it all in his head. But in 1972, with a move to a new warehouse on nine acres of land on Sharon Road, the company saw its first automatic technology: the IBM System/34, running on RPG II, with 64KB of memory. Today, our warehouse runs on the organized and efficient Synapse by Zethcon.
Under the current management—the sixth generation—the company formed a third business, Taylor Logistics Inc., a brokerage-based logistics offering integrated solutions. And after many years in the pool distribution business, Taylor ended its operation to focus fully on the drayage business, bringing us full circle to our heritage.
From its founding in 1850 to today, the Taylor companies have represented a steadfast, adaptive, and continuously improving business that has earned its longstanding reputation and defined the standards of logistics by committing to excellence in customer service and employee satisfaction.