Toyota, suppliers mark one-year

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

Last November, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi and its suppliers in Northeast Mississippi held elaborate ceremonies to mark the start of production.
It had taken 4 1/2 years since the announcement Toyota was coming to get the first vehicle off the line at the plant in Blue Springs, so it was a special moment to celebrate with the public.
In reality, however, production actually had begun a few weeks earlier, in October. It wasn’t until the following month that grand-opening-style ceremonies were held.
On Wednesday, Toyota Mississippi will mark its official first birthday. But there will be no special ceremony to mark the occasion.
Besides, a special milestone event occurred less than two weeks ago, when the 100,000th Corolla rolled off the line at TMMMS.
And Toyota couldn’t have done it without is suppliers, said company spokesman Victor Vanov.
“We have very good, collaborative relationships with our suppliers across North America and particularly in Mississippi,” he said. “Obviously, it’s our first year and we’ve made our 100,000th car, so we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished at Toyota with our suppliers and we look forward to working with them even more.”
Suppliers actually started production a little ahead of Toyota Mississippi so that the assembly plant would be ready to roll on Oct. 24, 2011.
While Toyota Mississippi employs some 2,000 workers in Blue Springs, its Mississippi-based suppliers employ almost that many.
The plant has nearly 250 suppliers, 50 of them within a 250-mile radius. Eleven suppliers are based in Mississippi.
Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi in Baldwyn is among the largest, employing more than 400 employees, and Perry Walker, the plant’s human resources director, said it continues to grow. It originally was going to employ 300 workers but has far exceeded that goal.
“We’re adding another 80 over the next few months and should be up to 530 workers in a few months,” Walker said.
Diversity-Vuteq, which provides moldings and glass components from facilities inside TMMMS and in New Albany, employs another 500 workers.
In Dorsey, Toyota Boshoku Mississippi, employs about 200.
Systems Automotive Interiors employs another 150. And in Sherman, logistics provider K.C. Integrated employs nearly 100.
dennis.seid@journalinc.com