By Kalea Hall
Two months after the Taylor family invested millions into a new dealership in Boardman at the request of General Motors, Jeff Taylor answered a call.
It was the parts’ manager at Taylor Oldsmobile.
“He said, ‘It’s over,’” Taylor said.
He was in disbelief when he was told that GM decided to halt the production of the century-old Oldsmobile brand — a brand his family had been a part of since 1965.
The Oldsmobile line struggled to stay afloat, so GM decided it was time for it to go.
Taylor Oldsmobile was one of 180 single-line dealers in the nation to have to face the news. GM and the Taylor dealership did reach a settlement because of the announcement.
“I had a big knot in my stomach,” he said. “But I knew we would be OK.”
That was in 2000.
As the story goes, a year later a Kia salesman drove up Market Street looking for a dealer to take on the Kia product line.
Jeff checked Kia out and decided to take a chance on the Korean brand that no one knew.
The once single-line domestic dealer would soon become Taylor Oldsmobile Kia until all the Oldsmobiles were off the lot.
Oldsmobile production officially stopped with the Alero in 2004.
“We had good employees, and they stayed with us, and they didn’t know the future,” Jeff said.
The dealership that started in Niles with Jeff’s father, Emmet Taylor, moved to Austintown and then to Boardman.
It had some dedicated customers who also stayed, but much of the customer base had to be built up in order for the product to be viable.
“We took Kia, and it turned out to be a phenomenal franchise with a lot of American employment,” Jeff said.
He told The Vindicator in a 2002 article that he was hoping within a few years after taking the Kia brand, he would sell 600 vehicles a year.
That number has far been surpassed.
In 2013, the dealership sold about 1,350 new cars and 1,100 used. In comparison, in 2014 the dealership sold about 1,500 new cars and 1,200 used cars.
Jeff Taylor, the president of the dealership, and his brother, Mark Taylor, vice president of the dealership, are still there, but Matthew Taylor — Mark’s son and Jeff’s nephew — runs the operation.
“I don’t take any credit for [the success],” Jeff said. “I give credit to [Matthew]. He’s done tremendous.”
Some changes did take place for the Taylors after taking on the Kia brand. They used to operate a Toyota dealership in Boardman, but that was sold in 2007.
A few years ago, the dealership moved to its current location at 7870 Market St. The move gave them four times the space.
“We needed more room to help customers,” Matthew said. “We have expanded quicker and faster than I anticipated.”
Outside of having a well-designed line of cars to show off, the Taylors firmly believe in the employees they have selling the vehicles.
“Our cars are industry-leading, which they weren’t 10 or 12 years ago,” Matthew said.
The top sellers are the made-in-America Sorento and Optima.
Taylor Kia remains the only Kia dealership in the Mahoning Valley and was selected as one of the top 30 Kia dealers in the U.S. out of 769.
The future for the Taylor name includes another dealership in Columbus, set to open by next year.
“I believe that Kia has a really good future,” Matthew said.