As Mississippi State’s nearly 1,500 graduates embark on the next phase of their life’s journey, alumnus William A. “Lex” Taylor III encouraged them not to be afraid of change.
Taylor, 2019-2020 Mississippi Economic Council Chair and chairman and CEO of The Taylor Group of Companies, Inc., addressed graduates at MSU’s fall 2019 commencement ceremonies on December 13 at Humphrey Coliseum.
“Don’t be afraid of change,” Taylor said. “Many of your peers will be satisfied with the status quo. Don’t be.”
During his speech, Taylor noted that his father and grandfather adapted to change as they successfully built and expanded the family business, Louisville-based Taylor Machine Works. Taylor has served as chairman of the board of the company since 2008 and has overseen the company as it has grown and diversified, resulting in the formation of The Taylor Group of Companies, Inc. The company is one of the only privately held manufacturers of industrial lift trucks operating in America today
Taylor is currently the chair of the Mississippi Economic Council, the state’s chamber of commerce. Other business leadership includes previously serving as chairman of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. A 1977 graduate of MSU’s College of Business, he noted the many technological breakthroughs that have taken place since his graduation. He also mentioned several MSU alumni that are making an impact, such as Entergy Mississippi President and CEO Haley Fisackerly, best-selling author John Grisham, Freeport-McMoRan President and CEO Richard Adkerson, and Oasis Petroleum Director and CEO Tommy Nusz.
“If you trust in yourself, be patient and remember to use your confidence in the right measure, your opportunities will be abundant,” Taylor said. “Your job, your life, your accomplishments have just begun. Make something of the time you are given. Enhance your degree, contribute to a cause, build a family, build a business. Whatever you do, do something great.”
Taylor has served as treasurer on the MSU Foundation Board of Directors, as well as chairman of the College of Business Advisory Board. He was named the College of Business’ Alumnus of the Year in 2007. The Taylor Group of Companies and the Taylor family enjoy a long history of supporting Mississippi State, helping make possible the Taylor Solid Mechanics Laboratory in Carpenter Hall and the W.A. Taylor Jr. Auditorium in the Leo Seal Family Business Complex, among other generous philanthropy.