VOL. 132 | NO. 97 | Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Patton & Taylor to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award
By Patrick Lantrip
In 1967, the Vietnam War was in full effect, the Green Bay Packers won the first ever Super Bowl and two employees of Joyner, Heard & Jones Realtors in Memphis had the idea to start their own company.
Over the past 50 years, Clyde Patton and Bruce Taylor have taken on many significant and interesting projects, including the 35-acre lake behind their Germantown office.
(Daily News/Patrick Lantrip)
And while the world has changed a lot in the past 50 years, Clyde Patton and Bruce Taylor, founders of Patton & Taylor Construction Co., are still doing what they love best. They will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Memphis chapter of Lambda Alpha International at its annual banquet on May 17 at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.
“To be recognized by your peers is one of the finest honors you can receive,” Patton said. “This means quite a bit to me.”
Past recipients of the award include Kemmons Wilson, Jack Belz and Henry Turley, the latter of whom was a childhood friend of Patton.
“Those people know you, so you’re not going to fool them,” Taylor added.
The two first got the idea to go into business with each other when they were working for Joyner, Heard & Jones in the 1960s.
“Bruce was in the sales department, and I was in the mortgage loan department,” Patton said.
When they decided to incorporate Patton & Taylor in December of 1967, their original focus was in single-family residences. Patton said the company did reasonably well developing homes and subdivisions until the early 1980s when interest rates went sky high.
“The Federal Reserve was trying to stop runaway inflation and they raised interest rates radically,” Patton said. “We were paying 22 percent at the peak, whereas we were paying 6 or 7 percent beforehand. We survived, but we liquidated our inventory of homes and lots.”
At that point, they decided then was the right time to make the switch to the commercial sector.
Later on in the 1980s, Patton and Taylor partnered with Henry Turley to help bring Downtown Memphis back from obscurity.
“He was a pioneer,” Patton said of Turley. “He started developing Downtown when it was pretty dead.”
The first project they worked on together was the Cotton Exchange Building at 65 Union Ave., a project that Taylor remembers fondly.
“I loved the Cotton Exchange Building, because my part of that project was restoring the building’s lobby,” he said. “It was a unique experience, mainly because we had a team that was very creative and talented.”
They also worked with Turley to restore the Paperworks Building, the Lofts near the old Tennessee Brewery and most of the multifamily properties near the entrance to Harbor Town, Taylor said.
Much later, when the recession hit in 2008, Taylor said they considered calling it a career, but decided to weather the storm for the sake of their employees.
“During the recession, we got down to no business,” Taylor said. “We thought about retiring, but we didn’t because we had the best people we ever had working with us, so we decided to try it for a few more years and not quit or lay anyone off.”
He said they were able to stay afloat thanks to a reserve of money they had saved up.
“It was expensive to do that, but our employees have been with us for a long time, they were great people and we felt like we owed them something,” he said. “Fortunately, we were rewarded when our business picked back up well above where it was before.”
And now, despite half a century of hard work, the duo said they have no plans on slowing down, and even if they did, they know the company would be in good hands.
“We have got some very able people who have been with us a long time, some more than 30 years,” Patton said. “All of these people could carry on without us if they had to. We are truly blessed with some really great people.”