By ANDREA LARSON | Norfolk Daily News
You could say business is in Scott Taylor’s blood.
The owner of several home-grown outfits in Laurel, Taylor has trouble remaining idle and has focused his energy into being an entrepreneur.
He managed to find success in a risky economy through the support of his community and by surrounding himself with family — both blood-related and chosen.
Knuckleheadz Bar, T & H Meat Co. and Fine Spirits, and Smokin’ T’s Catering are the fruits of Taylor’s labor, but his story had much humbler beginnings.
“I’ve lived here my entire life. I graduated here and went to Northeast Community College, took some entrepreneur classes, some business classes, didn’t get a degree. Then, I worked at Scheels in Sioux City selling guns and stuff,” Taylor said.
That line of work didn’t pan out for long though. Taylor hurt his back badly and had to have two major surgeries involving the placement of rods and pins.
So he and his wife of more than 20 years now, Christy, and their family soon moved back into the area.
Taylor couldn’t just “sit around,” so when a building in Laurel came up for rent, he took the initiative to open his own sporting goods store.
“I’d just as well try and see how I’d do. I sold stuff in Sioux City, why not try my hometown? I put guns and fishing stuff and life jackets, clothing in there. I had a recliner in there, because I couldn’t walk around much because of my back,” Taylor said.
He knew everyone in town, and he was a good salesman, so it wasn’t long before the next business opportunity came along.
“One day, a guy came in and said he’d heard I’m the guy to talk to about selling seed. I told him I knew nothing about seed, but he said he heard I knew everybody around. I did.
“And that was the day that probably changed most things for me,” Taylor said.
Taylor built up his seed business “huge,” but he didn’t have time for his sporting goods store anymore , so he sold it.
However, Taylor always seemed to need to have more than one iron in the fire, so he and his wife sold food out of a kitchen Taylor put in his seed shed.
“We’d do our field day, and all of the sudden, people started asking us to do catering for them and it blew up. We did a lot of weddings, family reunions and now people will even call us for their Christmas meals,” Taylor said.
All the while, Taylor’s seed business continued to grow, and he eventually sold it to a large company in 2015, staying on as a salesman.
“But I wanted to put something right back into our community again, so we invested some of that money into buying the bar. We already had the reputation for the food and the catering, so we fixed it up, hired a chef, hired help.”
The Taylors’ catering business continued to grow, and they moved it into Knuckleheadz. Just last week, Smokin’ T’s Catering served 400 people at a field day, Christy Taylor said.
The bar’s reputation for having steakhouse menu options meant that before long, customers were asking to buy fresh meat from Knuckleheadz.
That’s where the latest business venture — T & H Meat Co. and Fine Spirits — came in.
Taylor and Keelan Holloway, his attorney, opened the store about two years ago. Hand-cut meat from the store not only supplies the bar, it is also sold to the public. Besides beer and spirits, the store also features a selection of 50 different wines.
Now with three active businesses (aside from selling seed), Taylor is able to employ 24 people in a town with a population of under 1,000.
“All of our help kind of works at all of the businesses, except for two managers (at the bar) and at T & H. To get the employees the hours that we want, to fit them on the schedule, we just kind of rotate them around through all of the businesses,” Taylor said.
He has known his Knuckleheadz manager, Taylor Pigg, since she was just a little girl. Though Pigg did go away for college, she said she was happy to return to Laurel.
“(The Taylors) gave me a great job opportunity after college. And my family is here, and I didn’t like it when some of the family moved away, because then you never get to see them. I enjoy getting to drive four miles, and I can see my parents or my grandma or my friends,” Pigg said.
Christy Taylor said she and her husband consider Pigg, and all of their employees, to be family.
“People come back to Laurel because of the idea of family, and it’s not just related family. All of our employees, I call them my kids. And they are,” Christy Taylor said.
Scott Taylor said the community at large has supported his businesses and has been there for his family through thick and thin. When he and his wife had to be in Omaha for week a family member’s medical emergency, friends and neighbors picked up the slack at home.
When the bar and store close due to winter blizzards, the people of Laurel are understanding that the Taylors don’t want their employees — their family — risking safety to get to work.
“In a small town, they support you. You would not believe what is here and the opportunities that are right in front of you in a small town. I can’t imagine wanting to raise my kids anywhere else than in a small community. We’re all family here,” Taylor said.