Forget horsepower, Toyota Indiana plant powered by people

New Delhi, May 26: Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota Motor Corp is celebrating 20 years of its Indiana plant and over these years, the plant has built 4.3 million vehicles. But it isn’t the planning, engineering, problem solving or high-pace of the assembly line that stands out to Norm Bafunno, the plant’s president. It’s the people.

“My first day on the job as president, a team member came up to me and said she would like to talk about a policy the plant had. I thought to myself, ‘oh boy, what’s coming next.’ As it turns out, it wasn’t something she wanted changed that would benefit her, but, rather, she wanted to donate her vacation days to another team member whose son was sick and in the hospital. In a nutshell, that defines who we are.”

What started as the original plant to make the Tundra, now boasts the Sienna minivan, Sequoia full-size SUV and the Highlander and Highlander Hybrid midsize SUV.

“This minivan will help us make an impact in the lives of people right here in Gibson County by keeping them mobile,” said Michelle Fry, executive director, Gibson County Counsel on Aging. “Our service is the only way many of our seniors are able to get out to vital places such as the doctor, pharmacy and grocery store.”

Over its 20 years of operation, the plant had invested $4.3 billion, created 24,058 jobs in Indiana (including direct, intermediate and spin-off employment), did three expansions, and exports vehicles to 27 countries.

“From the first Tundra produced to the current vehicle line-up, we are proud of the accomplishments of the Toyota Indiana team members,” said Osamu “Simon” Nagata, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. “It is clear the plant has a long and bright future ahead.”