Blue Springs workers ‘build a good product’ for Toyota

By Carlie Kollath Wells/NEMS Daily Journal

BLUE SPRINGS – Toyota employees are easily recognized by the monogrammed shirts they wear.
The shirts are emblazoned with their names under “Toyota” in all caps.
The employees, called team members in Toyota lingo, show up in grocery lines and at gas pumps. They are one of the more visible signs in the community of Toyota’s decision to open a manufacturing facility in Blue Springs.
And their names are ever-present inside the plant – on their shirts, their safety gear and their transportation carts. Their ballcaps also are color-coordinated by their rank.
Why the emphasis on names?
“Respect,” said Mike Durham, assistant manager of quality control. “It helps your communication.”
Susan Nanney is one of Toyota’s 2,000 team members in Mississippi. The West Union resident started working for Toyota in September 2011 after she lost her job at Caye Home Furnishings when the plant closed.
She works on the instrument panel line in the plant. She’s learned four different jobs, including how to build dashboards for the Corolla.
“So far I enjoy my job,” she said. “It’s a new experience using airguns.”
Eric LaGrone, a Starkville resident, also is making the most of his experience at Toyota. He previously managed a Coca-Cola distributing center in Starkville and the Sitel call center in Starkville.
Nearly a year ago, he came onboard with Toyota to work in the paint and finish department.
“It’s something I look forward to every day,” he said.
His team inspects vehicles after they’ve been painted and coated with a clear finish to see if there are scratches or imperfections in the paint. They’ve got the process down to no more than 79 seconds per car by dividing the inspection into sections, like the roof and the hood.
Their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
“We’ve got some really good team members,” said Lou Spagnoletta, assistant manager of trim and chassis and a Toyota employee of 18 years. “To not have any car manufacturing experience, they’ve been very receptive. They build a good product.”

How to Apply
The Mississippi plant takes applications through the WIN Job Center. For more information, visit or call (662) 842-4371.

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