Taylor Electric Company, a black-owned family company, has been servicing the electrical needs of the Chicagoland area for 100 years. Today, the company is a multi-million-dollar corporation with more than 100 employees, charged with the maintenance of Guaranteed Rate Field, Soldier Field, and Northerly Island, and several building projects around the city.
Sam Taylor founded Taylor Electric Company in 1922. Taylor Electric Company was a two-man operation installing lights and doorbells in the historic Motor Row District for neighbors such as Blue Star Auto, Al Capone, Greer College, and “Big Jim” Colosimo.
During the Great Depression, Taylor fought for black membership in IBEW Local 134. When the union refused to open its doors, Taylor founded the first black electrical union with the help of Oscar Stanton De Priest, the first African American elected to Congress in the 20th century. In 1969, Taylor passed the company to his son, Rufus Taylor. Taylor co-founded the Black Contractors United and worked with Mayor Harold Washington to increase opportunities for the Black community.
Following Rufus Taylor’s death in 1995, his daughter, Martha Taylor, became President/CEO, and Jessie Dinkins’ son, Kenneth Dinkins, became Vice President/COO overseeing all field operations. In 2015, Sam Taylor’s great-granddaughters and 4th generation descendants Kendra Dinkins was promoted as President/CEO and Karen Michele Dinkins, Vice President/COO. The company added women-owned to their minority-owned status.
Kendra Dinkins started her career teaching at an all-girls boarding school in North Carolina. When she came back home to regroup and interview at other boarding schools, her dad, Kenneth Taylor, asked her to work at the office temporarily as head of accounting. When the recession hit and the company had to downsize, Dinkins started taking on more responsibilities and worked her way up to become president of Taylor Electric Company.
Dinkins says Taylor Electric Company celebrating 100 years is surreal. “Sometimes we don’t realize how big of an impact it is in a world even from the beginning wasn’t set up for us to succeed, and we were able to make it this far. Some employees have generations that were brought up working at Taylor Electric. We are a family.” says Dinkins.
Taylor Electric Company’s main office is located on the south side of Chicago. Dinkins says the way to help the community is to occupy the community with resources and connect with people in the neighborhood where there are job opportunities. “Connecting with other black businesses sets an example. When kids around the neighborhood see people who look like them, it will inspire them in the future to own and run a business,” says Dinkins.
Taylor Electric Company celebrated its historic milestone the weekend of September 16-18 with family, friends, employees, and customers. The weekend festivities included a Friday food truck, Saturday night gala, and Sunday brunch.
Congressman Danny Davis and Alderman Michelle Harris came out to the weekend celebration. Senator Richard Durbin sent a congratulatory letter, and Congresswoman Robin Kelly submitted a resolution honoring Taylor Electric Company.
Governor JB Pritzker and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton sent a congratulatory video message at Saturday night’s gala. Pritzker congratulated the company on its success. “The best is yet to come,” says Pritzker. Stratton said she was excited to see the positive impact the company will have for the next 100 years.
Martha Taylor, President and Executive Director of Taylor Electric Cares (“TECares”), a non-profit founded in 2021, spoke about the mission and focus on providing education and resources to minorities and women who want a career in the electrical construction industry. TECares works with the Chicago Women in Trade (“CWIT”), which bring 25 women to come to the office and spend the day with an electrical contractor. They provide classes on hands-on seminar conduit vending, blueprint reading, safety, and a panel discussion about preparation for entering into the workforce to be a tradewoman. “So many people have helped us, we feel fortunate, and it’s an honor to be able to give back,” says Taylor.
Celebrating 100 years and counting, Dinkins says she is proud of her family’s ability to put each other first and stay together during challenging times. “The staying power of my family is what I’m most proud of,” says Dinkins.
For more information about Taylor Electric Company, go to taylorelectricco.com. To support Taylor Electric Cares, go to taylorelectricco.com/taylor-electric-cares-nfp.