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Taylor Motorcycles speeds past 50th

Owners John and Josele Taylor look back over 50 years doing business on Highway 99E in Woodburn


by: TYLER FRANCKE - John and Josele Taylor, owners of Taylor Motorcycles Inc., pose in their showroom last week. Over the weekend, the couple celebrated their 50th year in business at their headquarters on Highway 99E in Woodburn.For many business owners, a major milestone — like a company’s 50th anniversary — is a time to stop and reflect, maybe take a well-earned break from the daily grind.

But don’t expect that from John and Josele Taylor, owners of Taylor Motorcycles Inc. Their company may have celebrated its 50th anniversary over the weekend with a barbecue for customers and employees, but taking time off isn’t really their style.

Instead, the smart money would be on John Taylor, 81, beating his employees to the shop every morning this week to open up and flip the lights on, just like he did last week, and the week before that, and the week before that, going all the way back to 1964.

When asked about the possibility of retirement, John Taylor just shakes his head and smiles.

“I’d probably waste away to nothing before I’d think about that,” he said.

John Taylor is not really one to mince words. On the question of why he and his wife started Taylor Motorcycles, he’s equally laconic.

“I didn’t have a job,” he said wryly.

Truth be told, John Taylor had an automotive background from working in his family’s shop with his father and brother, and he had raced motorcycles throughout the Pacific Northwest, so a Honda bike shop made sense.

“Honda was pretty eager at the time,” Josele Taylor recalled. “All you had to do was sign your name and you could get started.”

In the beginning, John worked the shop and took care of most of the customers, while Josele kept the books and handled finances.

“We’ve been a great team,” John Taylor said. “I understand the nuts and bolts; she understands the accounting.”

The Taylors started out down the road, but had moved to their current location at 2140 N. Pacific Highway after only a year in business. The store, which they eventually purchased, was barely 2400 square feet and cost them a grand total of $38,000.

Woodburn was a different town back then.

“There was nothing but cornfields and orchards out here,” John Taylor said. “It was all country.”

As the city’s grown, so has Taylor Motorcycles. After several additions, its complex now spans nearly 20,000 square feet, including multiple workshops, several offices, a spacious showroom and a well-stocked parts department, which John Taylor thinks may boast the “best supply of ATV parts in the state.”

Their staff has swelled, too, to about 13 or 14. Mark Nicot, a sales manager who has worked for the Taylors for 10 years said they treat their staff “like family.”

“They call it the Taylor family,” he said. “They’re good to their employees. They just want to people to show up, work hard, go home and not have to worry about it.”

He said they lead by example; their work ethic is well-known.

“Josele will run circles around you,” he said with a laugh. “They’re here every day.”

Though the Taylors still love motorcycles, the all-terrain vehicle has become their best-selling product. John Taylor said the advent of ATVs, which first started appearing commercially in the ’70s, have been a real boon to the area’s sizeable agricultural community.

The Taylors admit they have seen their share of challenges over the years, as the economy has ebbed and flowed and their industry has fluctuated and changed. Josele Taylor said the adversity has taught them one thing.

“Never give up,” she said. “It goes up and down. We have good years and we have bad years. But we never quit; we couldn’t — we didn’t have anywhere else to go. We just rode it out.”



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