As Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia (TMMWV) celebrates 25 years of producing engines and transmissions, a keen eye is looking down the road at the next quarter century and the excitement that exists as this plant contributes to Toyota’s mission of “Mobility for All.”
“The future of this plant is unlimited,” said Srini Matam, president of TMMWV. “We are well positioned for the next 25 years as innovation and advanced manufacturing lead the way. We continue to build more efficient engines and transmissions and we are deeply engaged in hybrid technologies and robotics.”
While supporting Toyota’s global mission of “bringing the joy and freedom of movement to all,” this plant in Buffalo has grown and expanded in the past 25 years:
Buffalo is only Toyota plant in North America that makes both engines and transmissions – it has produced nearly 20 million powertrains since 1996.
The Buffalo plant is the only plant in North America that produces hybrid transaxles for the Sienna and Highlander.
It is the only Toyota plant worldwide that produces under one roof this stable of engines: ZR 1.8-liter 4-cylinder, GR V-G 3.5-liter, and TNGA 2.5-liter 4 cylinder.
Since its inception, TMMWV has expanded 11 times.
Coinciding with the 25-year anniversary celebration, The Toyota USA Foundation has awarded a $189,000 grant to West Virginia University Institute of Technology. The grant supports a new after-school computer science program for middle schools in four West Virginia counties: Putnam, Kanawha, Fayette, and Raleigh.
“This is an investment in our future,” said Carolyn Long, WVU Tech campus president. “The program will help young people see the opportunities ahead and give them the tools to pursue interests in robotics, cybersecurity, game development and more. We hope that this will be a model program that will expand throughout the state.”
Shamaya Morris, a production group leader at TMMWV, said it is a smart investment for the future.
“The first thing I tell people is that Toyota West Virginia is an advanced manufacturing facility. We program and set up robots to work around people and alleviate the burden of heavy lifting and repetitive motions. We make it safe for the team members on the floor. We use the brawn behind the robot but need the team member’s brain and cognitive abilities.”
Meantime, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice points to Toyota’s staying power and overall investment in the Mountain State. “I could never thank the incredible folks at Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia enough for all the goodness they’ve brought to the town of Buffalo and our entire state over the past 25 years.”
He added: “Their commitment to our communities and our people has been off-the-charts. Toyota has been a wonderful partner to our great state and is a shining example of how a global company can truly thrive in West Virginia. I congratulate them on a quarter century of success and wish them all the best in the years and decades to come.”
For Matam, the common denominator for the plant’s success is the 2,000 team members.
“The ability of our people to adjust and learn new advanced manufacturing principles is incredible. From our folks on the line to the engineers and across the board, it’s very humbling to see so many individuals come together to make the best possible engines, transmissions and transaxles in the world.”
And, for Jacob Plasters, a senior engineering manager, it’s the ability to carve out your own personal niche that makes TMMWV attractive.
“For anyone out there who is graduating from high school or college and going to join the workforce, my advice is to find your passion. I’m allowed to follow my passion where I can work as a team, but, also, have continuous improvement which are part of the Toyota Way — on a day-to-day basis. I have a very fulfilling career. At Toyota West Virginia we are moving forward together.”