‘Great Cars Don’t Happen Without Great People’


Toyota recently unveiled their 2013 Avalon at a press tour in Cincinnati. The event not only provided the media with a look at the newly designed vehicle, but also an inside look at Toyota and its strong commitment to diversity

Members of the press got the chance to drive the impressive vehicle and see it being made at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) plant.

The plant sits on 1,300 acres and employs about 6,600 people with an annual payroll of approximately $492 million. The annual production capacity is 500,000 vehicles and 600,000 engines. In addition to the Avalon, the plant produces Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon Hybrid, Venza, 4-cylinder and V6 engines, axles steering components, machined blocks, cylinder heads, crankshafts, camshafts, rods and axles assemblies/dyes.

“Great cars do not happen without great people,” James S. Colon, vice president for communications at Toyota Motor Sales, said. According to Colon the firm’s productivity is enhanced by its commitment to diversity. He said that 30 percent of the workforce is people of color.

The vehicle is produced at the firm’s largest plant in North America, an operation overseen by another African American, Wilbert W. (Wil) James, Jr., president of Toyota Motors Manufacturing Kentucky. “We are proud of the way we do business.” James said, noting that he insists that everyone be involved in diversity. “That is the Toyota Way,” he said. The diversity policy is implemented by Latondra Newton, assistant general manager of corporate affairs.

The company has received numerous awards for diversity, including:

• “Top 50 Company for Diversity” by DiversityInc for six years. In 2012, in addition to being included in the list of Top 50 Companies for Diversity overall, Toyota also ranked seventh in DiversityInc’s Top 10 Companies for LGBT Employees.

• “40 Best Companies for Diversity” by Black Enterprise Magazine for the past seven years.

Hispanic Business Magazine’s “Top 60 Company for Diversity” for the past three years.

• 2011 “Corporation of the Year” by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).

• Member of the “Billion Dollar Roundtable,” recognizing more than $1 billion in annual spending with certified ethnic and women-owned suppliers.

Rob McConnell, another African American member of the corporate team, played a key role in the new Avalon. McConnell was the principal engineer of the design team that created the 2013 Avalon.

McConnell’s team has taken the lead in designing seven different Toyota vehicles, including the Venza, Solara and Tundra. The Avalon was the first car that was totally designed and built outside of Japan. Over the last eight years, it has completely been re-styled.

'Great Cars Don't Happen Without Great People'

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