Working for a Living for Oct. 4, 2012

For Weekly SurgeOctober 3, 2012 

Mike Taylor has been a Myrtle Beach resident for 12 years and an electrician for more than three decades. Originally from the Winchester, Va. area, he started out as a helper in the field while still a junior in high school.

“I’m a career electrician,” he says. “I didn’t even know how to wire up a single pole switch [light switch], and by the time I left the CIA, I was overseeing construction of major commercial buildings.”

You saw that right, he said the CIA - the Central Intelligence Agency - where he spent seven years as electrician there, overseeing installations.

“I was in my 20s, and my business contacts led me to a contact down in the DC area,” he says.

Taylor says he walked into a building in Bethesda, Md., and a man told him he needed an electrician to wire up a new structure. “Next thing I know I’m walking into the CIA Headquarters.” He worked on what is known as the NHB or New Headquarters Building, which was completed in 1991 in Langley, Va., and stayed on for a time.

“I got a top-secret clearance – to change light bulbs,” he laughs. “It’s funny. They give you a photo ID and they give you a designation saying, ‘OK, you are allowed in this section of the building or you are allowed in that section of the building.’ Well I had all of the sections on my badge, so they all thought I was a VIP when I walked in. I was there to check the electrical or add a receptacle or something.”

Taylor came to Myrtle Beach to do jobs with several electrical contractors, and for seven years worked with the now-defunct Myrtle Beach Electric. “We stayed pretty steady until the recession hit.” Steady translated into 16-hour workdays. “There were many times I would work on different projects during the day, and then at nighttime I’d go and work at Broadway at the Beach from midnight until five or six in the morning on different projects out there.”

Two years ago, Taylor started his own business, an electrical service and maintenance operation called Rock & Roll Electric [ www.rockandrollelectric.com]. This year he plans on securing a state electrical contractors license for the business and expanding into new construction bid work – and he thinks the time is right. “I was talking with a general contractor here lately and he’s thinking he’s going to do at least 20 houses this year, compared to his four or five that he did two years ago. Seems like the economy is starting to rebound a little bit.”

We saw Taylor walking around Broadway at the Beach with a stack of AVON catalogs, and had to tell him he looks nothing like an AVON lady. “I get that all the time,” he says. He explains that this business venture started as a side project with his former partner. “When she left, I kind of picked up the ball and kept it going.” He admits that not many men sell AVON. “But it’s gladly acceptable because it’s such a household name. It’s really easy to run,” he says. “I struggle a little bit just because I can’t give them the ins and outs of the product because I never had to wear it or put it on – but I’ve got a contract now in Bulgaria.”

Here at home he services between 20 and 30 regular customers, but he is strictly sales only. “With my schedule I don’t have time to be a manager in AVON, so if anybody is interested in selling, I just send them over to the lady that signed me up.” He says it’s a fun business for people who don’t mind approaching and talking to strangers.

In his downtime, Taylor refuels at Harry’s Breakfast Pancakes in Myrtle Beach. “And of course, I’m biased – I hang out at Good Time Charley’s [an electrical customer] whenever I am at Broadway.” He enjoys watching NASCAR and says he can usually be found with a surf rod in his hand, fishing on the beach. “I enjoy what I do [for a living] and what I do in my off time. It makes for a better lifestyle.”

Know of a local with an interesting job or career that should be given the Working 4 A Living treatment? Contact Roger Yale at rgyale@gmail.com.

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