The president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana says consumer confidence and the local work force are two reasons for the success of the company’s plant in Princeton, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Norm Bafunno will be joined by Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb today to mark the milestone for the plant, where construction began in May 1996.
Bafunno tells Inside INdiana Business more than $1 billion was initially invested in the assembly plant, which was built to produce what was then the all-new Toyota Tundra. Since manufacturing began, Toyota has invested $4.3 billion into the facility, which has produced more than 4.3 million vehicles. He says the core of plant’s success has been in the hands of its work force from the start.
"Their dedication, their hard work, their flexibility, their willingness to learn and really their intelligence; they’ve brought so much innovation into our plant," says Bafunno. "It’s been amazing, the technology challenge that these team members have faced but they’ve really embraced the change in a very positive way. They’ve enhanced their skills and it’s really allowed us to grow and achieve the success we’ve had."
Bafunno says they are watching the auto industry evolve and TMMI will be flexible to meet any needs of the customers. He says local partnerships will also allow the company to continue to bring in a talented work force for years to come. He cites the Advanced Manufacturing Technician program with Vincennes University, which launched in 2013 and is already creating skilled team members for TMMI and other manufacturing businesses.
Bafunno adds says from the very beginning, the city of Princeton has remained a partner. "They’ve always been there with a can-do attitude and one that says, ‘How can we help? How can we support? How can we continue to be a partner?’ (The partnership) is alive and well and I feel it’s as strong today as it’s ever been."
The anniversary celebration will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the Toyota Indiana Visitors Center. Toyota plans to give away two vehicles to local nonprofit organizations at the event.