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Toyota taps new president for San Antonio assembly plant

Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 2:04pm CDT

Toyota taps new president for San Antonio assembly plant

San Antonio Business Journal - by W. Scott Bailey

 

Toyota Motor Corp. says it is making organizational changes in an effort to create more regional autonomy and local leadership at its North American manufacturing operations.

As part of that move, Toyota says Chris Nielsen will become the new president of its San Antonio truck assembly plant in San Antonio, effective July 1.

Nielsen joined Toyota in 1987 as a buyer at the automaker's Georgetown, Ky., plant. He replaces Kenji Fukuta, who will remain at the plant in an advisory role.

Toyota (NYSE: TM) says it is making leadership changes affecting more than a half-dozen of its North American plants.

The appointments listed below are effective July 1, 2010, unless noted and are pending approval by the Toyota Motor Corp. board of directors:

• Ray Tanguay, currently president of Toyota's Ontario plant, is appointed chairman of the facility;

• Steve St. Angelo, currently president of the automaker's Kentucky and Mississippi plants, is appointed chairman of the Kentucky facility and on Aug. 1 will be appointed chairman of the Mississippi facility;

• Brian Krinock is appointed president of the Ontario plant;

• Wil James is appointed president of the Kentucky plant;

• Masafumi Hamaguchi is appointed president of the Mississippi plant, effective Aug. 1;

• Norm Bafunno is appointed president of the Indiana plant.

In addition, Toyota officials say Karl Kusturok is appointed vice president of production engineering at Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. (TEMA). And Phil Rodi is appointed vice president of manufacturing in Ontario.

Nielsen and Bafunno are replacing Japanese presidents in San Antonio and Indiana, respectively.

"These changes allow us to move faster and more efficiently in key decision-making," says (TEMA) President Tetsuo Agata. "This is a natural progression for a global company, and I am pleased we are designating more responsibility to a seasoned group of Toyota veterans."

Toyota's San Antonio assembly facility is producing Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks and presently employs more than 2,800 workers.

Toyota established operations in North America in 1957 and currently operates a total of 13 manufacturing plants in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Toyota is constructing its 14th North American plant in Mississippi. That facility is expected to open in the fall of 2011.

Toyota directly employs more than 35,000 people in North America, where its investment is currently valued at more than $23 billion.

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