Toyota Celebrates 25 Years as Manufacturer in Kentucky
GEORGETOWN, Ky., Nov. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Twenty five years ago, ground was broken on a 1,300-acre tract of farmland in Scott County that now is home to Toyota’s largest manufacturing facility outside of Japan – employing nearly 7,000 team members.
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In recognition of the milestone, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) will host a celebration tomorrow at Keeneland Race Course that features Fujio Cho, chairman of Toyota Motor Corp. and past president of the TMMK operation, former Gov. Martha Layne Collins, and state and community leadership. In addition, team members will mark the anniversary at a private function at Rupp Arena.
In 1986, TMMK broke ground on its Georgetown plant site. In all, the company has invested $5.4 billion in the operation, which has seen several expansions, including two new plants. Today, TMMK produces Camry, Avalon and Venza vehicles, plus 4 cylinder and V6 engines, as well as several other components.
“It’s hard to believe that it has been 25 years since we began our journey here,” said Cho, president of the plant from 1988 to 1994. “I remember when we built the first Camry. Despite the uncertain future, we were excited to make Kentucky our first home for a Toyota vehicle plant in the U.S.”
It didn’t take long for the parent company to realize it made the right choice. To that end, the power-train plant was announced in November 1987; that was six months before the first Camry rolled off the production line. In addition, a second assembly line began producing vehicles in 1994.
Since 1988, the facility has built 8.7 million vehicles. In addition to the nearly 7,000 team members in Georgetown, Toyota employs approximately 1,500 workers at its North American manufacturing headquarters in Erlanger, Ky. – making the company the third largest private employer in the state. Also, 100 automotive suppliers in Kentucky employ over 9,600 workers who are dedicated to producing parts for Toyota vehicles.
“After 25 years together, we all know that Toyota is truly a Kentucky company,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “Tens of thousands of Kentucky families owe their livelihoods to Toyota, employed either in Georgetown or in Erlanger, or at the many dozens of companies which supply parts and services to Toyota. Over and over again, Toyota has proven to be not only a great employer, but also an outstanding corporate citizen.”
Gov. Collins, who was instrumental in bringing Toyota to the Bluegrass, agreed. “Toyota has done so much for this state; in many ways it has put us on the map. Not only does it employ over 8,000 people, but you have to consider the automotive suppliers who have moved to the state because of them. Plus, they have contributed so much in terms of helping non-profits, boosting education – their finger prints are on so many good causes across the state.”
As part of the celebration, TMMK will donate a Georgetown-built Camry hybrid vehicle to one non-profit organization, as well as provide four other groups with individual $25,000 gifts.
Since the facility started producing vehicles, TMMK has donated $40 million toward philanthropic causes. In addition, TMMK team members provide 33,000 hours in volunteer time annually to numerous non-profit organizations.
Wilbert (Wil) James, Jr., named president of TMMK in 2010, said it is an exciting time for Toyota in Kentucky. “We are very proud of what we have accomplished the past 25 years, and we look forward to a bright future. This facility is not only well respected in the Toyota family, but throughout the automotive industry.”
James, who began his Toyota career as a group leader at TMMK in 1987, added: “There is a reason why Camry has been the leading seller in the U.S. the last nine years and 13 of the last 14 years – it is the people who work on the line, our team members who put their heart and soul into every vehicle we make. They truly are the backbone of this company.”
The two manufacturing plants have the capacity to produce 500,000 vehicles annually. Vehicles produced: Camry 4-door sedan, Camry Hybrid sedan, Avalon sedan and Venza. Other products: 4 cylinder and V6 engines, axles, steering components, machined blocks, cylinder heads, crankshafts, camshafts, rods and axle assemblies, dies.
TMMK has won 10 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Plant Awards, the most of any auto-manufacturing facility in North America.