Toyota exec stands up to Texas heat


Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Business Columnists

Here is an article about the upcoming Toyota San Antonio plant and its leader, “T.J. Tajima.” Is it unique to have a guy from purchasing in charge of a Toyota factory? Is he a typical “manufacturing guy?”

“He's risen through the ranks through purchasing, most recently as general manager of global purchasing for the mother company, Toyota Motor Corp. in Japan. His degree is in economics from Keio University in Tokyo, not exactly the training you'd expect for an assembly line.”

“Even though I'm not an engineer, I've visited 3,000 plants,” says Mr. Tajima. “I know kaizen [Japanese for continuous improvement] when I see it.”

Toyota talks a lot about their role in society and their role in the environment. It's one argument for on-site suppliers — not just reducing the waste of time and inventory, but also the waste of pollution and energy usage:

Without on-site production, parts would travel up to 2,000 miles to San Antonio. A lot of things can happen to them during such a long haul. And those 18-wheelers produce emissions by the cloud-load – a key concern for Toyota, says Mr. Tajima.

“We really believe that the true meaning for our company's existence is better quality, better performance, better reliability and being kinder to Earth, which means fuel efficiency and lower pollution, not only with the product but in the process of making it,” he says. “Otherwise, we're just like everyone else.”

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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