Managing Through the Economic Downturn: Wil James, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky

A sluggish economy has affected businesses not only in the United States, but in many other countries as well. Coupled with last year's recall issues, Toyota has faced many challenges in keeping its plants running efficiently. Wil James is president of Toyota's Kentucky plant, one of the largest in the world, and one of the most recognized plants by J.D. Power & Associates. He discusses how Toyota maintains and adapts to market conditions through the use of its flexible Toyota Production System and how it continues to engage its most valuable resource -- its team members.

In This Presentation You Will See

  • Wil James' Introduction (in minute 1)

  • How Devastation in Japan Impacts the Supply Chain (in minute 2)

  • Direction of Toyota in the Recession (in minute 3)

  • New capabilities and accomplishments of Toyota's Kentucky plant (in minute 9)

  • Three Key Areas of Focus During Recession for Toyota (in minute 12)

  • Wil James Style of Management and Decision Making (in minute 14)

  • Why Not Laying Off People, Even in Idle Plants, is Often a Better Long-term Strategy (in minute 15)

  • Results of Plant Kaizen Improvements (in minute 17)

  • "Shared Sacrifice:" Suspension of Executive Bonuses (in minute 21)

  • "One of Toyota's Best Kept Secrets:" Toyota Production System Support Center (in minute 26)

  • Process Diagnostics (in minute 32)

  • How Toyota is Retooling for the Future (in minute 36)

  • Audience Q&A (in minute 39)

  • James's Response to a Question Asking How Much Toyota had to Incur in Losses to Accomplish no Firings. (in minute 39)

  • James's Response to a Question Asking For More Examples of Process Evaluation. (in minute 41)

  • James's Response to a Question Asking About the Amount of Reportable Saftey Incidents in a Typical Year. (in minute 43)

  • James's Response to a Question Asking How Toyota Measures Morale. (in minute 44)

  • James's Response to a Question Asking About Toyota's Use of Contract Workers. (in minute 46)

  • James's Response to a Question Asking How Toyota Celebrates Employee Suggestions. (in minute 49)

  • James's Response to a Question Asking How Toyota Eliminated Layoffs (in minute 52)

  • James's Response to a Question Asking How Often He and His Management team "Walk Around." (in minute 55)

  • and more


About the Speaker

Wilbert W. (Wil) James Jr., President, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc.

In July 2010, Wil James was appointed president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc.

James came to the plant from the Indiana facility in Evansville, where he was senior vice president for manufacturing and quality since 2008. He came to the Indiana plant from Long Beach., Calif., where he was president of TABC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. He joined TABC in January 2006 as senior vice president of operations and was promoted to president in January 2007.

From 1987 to 2006 James was affiliated with Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky. His almost 20-year career with TMMK encompassed many career moves. He was named vice president of manufacturing in January 2003. As vice president, James' responsibilities included overseeing all vehicle manufacturing operations as well as production control. He was general manager of assembly, responsible for engineering, maintenance, production and internal parts conveyance for Kentucky's two assembly lines, along with the plastics organization. He was general manager of production administration with responsibilities that included coordination of production support, facilities, environmental, planning and project management.

He held positions of production/maintenance/project engineer at Olin Corp. before joining Toyota. He received his bachelor of science in mechanical engineering technology from Old Dominion University in 1978. He also holds an associate's degree in applied sciences from Old Dominion University, earned in 1976.

James serves as Toyota's representative on the board of affiliates for the National Society of Black Engineers. He also is a member of the board of regents for Kentucky State University, Academic UpRise and Toyota's diversity champion for TEMA. Past public service roles include the board for the Urban League of Louisville, Ky., the Kentucky Humanities Council and The Partnership for Youth Organizations. James also is an active member of The Executive Leadership Conference and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Additional past affiliations include chairman of the board for Georgetown Municipal Water and Sewer Service and Toyota Federal Credit Union in addition to membership on the board of North Carolina A&T School of Engineering.


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