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Spotlight on Georgetown: Life inside the Toyota Motor Manufacturing plant

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Posted at 11:02 AM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 18:28:20-04

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (LEX 18) — You can’t shine a spotlight on anything in Georgetown without placing it squarely on the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky plant.

TMMK is the world's largest Toyota vehicle manufacturing plant. Thousands of Kentuckians are employed by TMMK and their annual payroll is approaching the one billion dollar mark. Their campus covers 7.5 million square feet along Cherry Blossom Way, just a mile or two east of interstate 75.

“TMMK is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said plant President, Susan Elkington.

Elkington took over as the plant’s first female president in 2018. She started in engineering at a Toyota plant in Indiana, where her daughter now works – also in engineering.

“There’s so many girls you see out in the community that maybe never would’ve thought that I could someday be president of Toyota,” Elkington said of her rise up the chain.

But that’s how Toyota tries to run its business; promote from within, while promoting a family atmosphere. Chad Ryan attended the on-site daycare facility when his mother, Tammy first started working here more than 30 years ago.

“It is neat to see him walking through the same doors I’ve been walking through for the last 34 years,” she said.

Chad is a group leader in the paint shop. His son recently toured the daycare center here where he met a few of the providers who helped mold Chad.

“That was a nice memory to go through there and see the same people who helped me,” Chad said.

Like Tammy, they’ve been here a long time.

“All of the people that I started here with, we do consider ourselves a family,” Tammy said.

Toyota has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to hybrid and electric vehicles, producing them for two decades. Recently the company announced plans for a U.S.-based plant where batteries for those vehicles will be made.

“We’ve been the leader for 21 years in electrification,” Elkington proudly stated.

They’ve also been good stewards in the city of Georgetown since the first Camry rolled off the assembly line here in 1988.

“Toyota has invested over 147 million dollars into the state of Kentucky on non-profits, to try to continue to have our success be the state’s success,” Mrs. Elkington added.

It’s been a good partnership for the city and TMMK. As Elkington noted, Georgetown had the requisite infrastructure and workforce to come here 34 years ago. Of course, it hasn’t been smooth sailing every step of the way.

For seven weeks in 2020, for example, they had to shut down due to COVID-19. And today they, like many other business, are facing shortages in supply due to a lack of workforce across almost all industries. But the one thing they’ve always done well, can continue happen in almost any economic climate, or no matter the health crisis.

“I think the biggest pride that I have working here is seeing people achieve levels that they never imagined,” Elkington said.