After 40 years, James Taylor retires from Carolina Farm Credit, gets Order of Long Leaf Pine

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 9, 2023

WOODLEAF — After working for Carolina Farm Credit since the 1980s, James L. Taylor Jr. has entered retirement and has been honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine

“There’s not too many people that’ve been financing agriculture in Rowan County for 42 years,” Taylor said.

If there are, they might not have as much of Taylor’s genuine attitude for staying true to his customers. He believes that honesty is the key to being successful.

“It’s about relationships and you got to develop relationships and the best way to develop those relationships is by doing the right thing,” Taylor said. “You can get more done by being nice to somebody than try and beat them over the head.”

Taylor grew up in Woodleaf and attended Catawba College. After graduation, he heard from a girl he went to church with that Carolina Farm Credit was hiring. In 1981, a loan officer position opened up and the rest is history.

Taylor would go on to rise through the ranks and become the senior vice president and senior relationship manager. He appreciates the kind of person who would come to Carolina Farm Credit to finance their farm or land. He, in turn, would do what was in their best interest, not his.

“When you finance three generations of people in Rowan County, it’s a humbling thing to me. Rowan County had some of the greatest farmers and still has some of the greatest farmers and just good old, down to earth people, just honest people,” Taylor said.

In the more than 40 years Taylor has worked for Carolina Farm Credit, he has assisted in financing nursing homes and farm bureau buildings in order to make the county a more prosperous area. “Doing stuff for the rural people, rural economy to create jobs and to make lives better in the rural community,” Taylor said.

His network of clients range from farmers to athletes. “It’s a great network, it’s a great organization to work for. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here for 42 years,” he said.

Besides his performance at Carolina Farm Credit, Taylor made sure his free time was spent helping others, too. Taylor has been a member of several boards and commissions in the county while also organizing a softball game for mentally and physically challenged children.

On March 28, Taylor was honored at the Statesville Civic Center with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine “for persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments.”

Taylor said he is overwhelmed by the award, but takes the time to stand back and realize how far he has come since he was a kid to where he is now.

“Maybe they’re lowering the standards,” he joked. “I don’t compare to these guys. If you think about who’s on that list it’s a who’s who in North Carolina: Andy Griffith, Michael Jordan, Phil Ford. It’s quite an honor. For somebody like me to grow up in the middle of Woodleaf and start picking tomatoes at 11 years old, it’s just mind boggling.”