Toyota supplier APMM installing equipment in Baldwyn facility

BALDWYN – Eager to ramp up operations as a Tier 1 supplier to Toyota Mississippi, Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi is in the midst of installing equipment that will be used to supply key components to the Blue Springs plant.
APMM fills a 500,000-square-foot facility in the Harry A. Martin North Lee Industrial Complex. It will supply stamped body parts, plastic bumpers and plastic instrument panels for the Corolla sedans to be built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi.
“We are in the process of installing some of the presses and stamping machines,” APMM President Kensaku Maseda said through an interpreter. “The equipment to make the plastic parts, installation will begin next month.”
APMM was the first company in mid-2007 to announce that it was going to supply TMMMS. Previously called Toyota Auto Body, APMM is expected to invest about $200 million and employ about 300 people.
The company plans to start accepting applications next month through the WIN Job Centers, with the majority of hiring to begin in January and training to begin in April.
About 20 production employees will be hired in November, said Joetta Gay, a human resources assistant manager for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, which is supporting the startup of APMM.
The first 20 production employees will start in December at APMM.
“If you apply early, you can be considered for all the jobs,” Gay said, encouraging people not to wait until January to apply.
She said APMM will not take production applications online. Rather, people have to apply at the state’s WIN Job Centers, which will then will forward the applications to APMM.
“We want as many as possible,” Gay said. “We know there are a lot of good people looking for jobs.”
APMM next week will start taking applications for group leaders and management positions at WIN Job Centers across the state and on CareerBuilder.com.
When Toyota announced in December 2008 that it was delaying the opening of TMMMS until the economy improved, suppliers like APMM also put their plans on hold.
However, work never ground to a halt on APMM’s 136-acre property.
“The paint equipment for the plastic and stamped parts we were able to finish the majority of upon completion of the building last year,” Maseda said.
On Tuesday, construction crews were installing various pieces of equipment at APMM. In the stamping area, workers were preparing the pit area where a 3,000-ton press is being assembled. The concrete floor under the press, which came from Japan, is four to six feet thick.
In another corner, robotics equipment on Tuesday sat on pallets waiting to be installed.
Some equipment came from the former New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in California that Toyota co-owned with General Motors. That plant built the Corolla, Matrix and Pontiac Vibe before being closed in April.
Other equipment has arrived, and more is coming from Japan.
Once the equipment is installed and tested, workers will be trained on how to use them. Training is expected to start in April.
For now, the APMM work force is small – 10 local hires and nine Japanese employees “dispatched” to the plant.
But with Corolla production to begin in less than a year, the pace of hiring and training additional workers for APMM will pick up soon enough. The number of Japanese employees is expected to double or triple as well.
June Kiyomoto McCane, a production control specialist for APMM, said the Japanese employees will stay at APMM ranging from six months to five years to support the start of production.
Maseda said APMM will be a good corporate citizen for Baldwyn and Lee County.
“Because we function as part of the Toyota family and the Toyota group of companies, it is appropriate that we respect the local community and our local team members,” he said. “The second thing is … that we want to build high-quality products to supply world-class products to our clients.”
Maseda also said that it is just as important for APMM to take part in “community-building activities and philanthropic opportunities,” along with being environmentally friendly.
Added Gay, “It’s been a long time but it’s finally here.”
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.

Dennis Seid and Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal