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Jerry and Ruth Laney in 1966

Taylor sells warehouse

By Michael Butler

Tallassee Bonded Warehouse is changing hands. Owner Trey Taylor has sold the city's longest-running industry to Weiss Lake Storage, LLC. Originally Laney Gin, it opened in 1966 on Highway 229.

"Laney built a premier gin," Taylor said. "It was like no gin east of the Mississippi. It was state of the art."

Sadly, Laney lost both of his hands in one of the state-of-the-art devices.

"He lost them in what was called a stick machine," said Taylor. "It had big wheels that turn with razor blades. Sometimes it would jam. You use sticks to get them unstuck. One hand got stuck. He reached in and it got both."

Jerry Laney had a couple of gin operations outside of Tallassee as well.

"It was the first business in the industrial park," Taylor noted of the Tallassee location. "It's been here for 57 years."

The Laneys with daughter Margaret seated on a cotton bale at their gin in Fleahop in 1951

Laney's daughter, Margaret Parham, remembered when her father opened the business.

"The grand opening was in August of '66. It had the latest technology available. There were many visitors including Lummus (gin company) executives," she said. "I remember going to town to a hardware store for red paint. It took five trips to get the exact color that the Lummus people wanted. And, yes, there were several hardware stores in downtown Tallassee."

The Taylor family has had ownership since 1986 when Trey's father Melvin Jr. and uncle Tommy purchased the business. Trey became a partner with his father's passing in 2008 and became the sole proprieter in 2010.

The facility has been used primarily for storage of cotton in its latter years.

"They're going to do the same thing," said Taylor. "They're out of Cherokee County in Centre, Ala."

The warehouses have stored as many as 26,000 bales on site during one season.

"The cotton is shipped all over the world," Taylor added. "Most leaves Tallassee for Savannah, Ga. before going overseas. It goes to Mexico, Pakistan, India, China."

Although Mount Vernon Mills operated for over 160 consecutive years in the manufacturing of cotton in Tallassee, the textile mill did not enter into the equation with the Laney/Taylor operation.

"I never shipped any cotton to Mount Vernon Mills," said Taylor who did have a company truck make a stop at his place a few years ago. "I was like, 'Y'all are still in business?' He said, 'This shipment's going to North Carolina.'"

Tallassee's first cotton mill was chartered in 1840. Although the doors on the Tallassee mill were closed in 2005, the parent company is still active, based in Mauldin, S.C.

Taylor, 56, now serves as business inspector for the City of Tallassee.

"For me, it was the right time," he said.

Trey and Jace Taylor in 2012