Leading Ladies: Caroline Taylor

by Ryan Miller

By Barrett Baker

Caroline Taylor, RN
President, Taylor Made Diagnostics, Inc. (TMD)

In 1995, Caroline Taylor came up with a great way to solve a big problem. As a registered nurse, she knew that many companies looking to hire potential new employees required those applicants to have certain compliance exams done prior to becoming employed. After her first child was born she was looking for a way to spend more time with her son and have additional flexibility when it came to her schedule. To accomplish this, she started her own business that included a 30-foot mobile medical unit that could travel to local businesses to provide on-site physicals, drug testing, hearing testing, immunizations and more.

The idea was a big hit with local businesses with large employee bases because it helped to improve downtime and increased productivity. However, after three years Taylor realized that she couldn’t take the mobile unit to a business that only had one or two future employees needing her services. So, she built a brick and mortar clinic to provide medical services for all local companies. To date, she serves approximately 1,600 local businesses through the mobile unit and the clinic. “I was trying to find a way to spend more time with my son, and it kind of backfired on me,” Taylor jokes. “As our success increased, I was actually spending more time at work and in trying to run the company.”

Although the business has continued to grow along with her list of accolades—TMD was voted Chesapeake Business of the year in 2015 and Virginia Small Business of the Year in 2016—Taylor finds that the toughest part about running the company is finding employees who fit with their culture. “We are looking for people who understand the service industry and who have a positive attitude and that above-and-beyond approach to solving our customers’ problems,” she says. “You can’t just hire a warm body to fill a gap. You have to hire someone who really understands their role and that customer service is not a department—everybody is in charge of customer service. It’s an attitude.”

As an entrepreneur, Taylor is a great role model for others and is always looking to create the next great leader. “I love to inspire people—women, children, young people and the team members I have on my workforce,” she says. “So, as my company grows, I’m looking for the grassroots employees who have been with me for a while and who really show a devotion to their role as being a team player for the company. I’m not going to work forever, so I’m looking to bring these team members up and let them fulfill some very difficult positions. But they have to understand the position first, and we have to provide them with what they need to be successful.”

Caroline Taylor, Leading LadiesPhoto by Jim Pile

Part of what drives Taylor to put so much time and effort into her people is based on her experiences on the flip side of the coin. “One of the biggest things for me as an employer is that I have been an employee for large organizations and I never felt valued,” she says. “My whole persona for my staff is to value, praise and encourage them. Because without them, I’m not successful.”

As for advice to future entrepreneurs of the world, Taylor offers this: “If I had known how hard this was going to be at the start, I probably would never have done it. So, know that it’s going to be challenging, but don’t quit before you get across the finish line. If you’re serious about what you’re doing, you’ve got to stick with it, you’ve got to work super hard, and you have to be committed. After all, it only took me 22 years to be an overnight success.”

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