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Thursday December 18, 2014

LEADERSHIP…….The Toyota Way

Posted on: July 25th, 2014


Sean Suggs ready to lead Blue Springs facility

Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Mississippi is blazing a trail of quality, economic value and leadership into the landscape of North Mississippi and the world. The company has positioned itself to be the leading manufacturer in the automotive industry.

“We must be brilliant at the basics,” says Sean Suggs

To solidify their position and exceed their goals, Toyota reconnected with a former associate, Sean Suggs, to lead the Blue Springs facility. Suggs, an elite manager and strategist, became the Vice President of Administration in December of 2013. He is responsible for all administrative areas including human resources, general affairs, safety, accounting and finance, and production control.

Sean Suggs envisions the continued excellence that Toyota has built as its foundation. Over the last 20 years, approximately 80% of all Toyota models are still being driven, says Suggs. “This foundation will not change,” Suggs said. “We will continue the unsurpassed quality while offering a cost competitive product.”

The Toyota MMMS facility has already achieved a milestone by launching a newly designed vehicle in only 18 months, he said. The 2014 Toyota Corolla has been redesigned and was launched during the 50th year anniversary of its model. Toyota Mississippi soon will exceed their goals again by exporting the new Corolla to 18 countries including Latin America and Central America. Mexico already is receiving these vehicles.

Suggs, an avid believer in the “one team” concept, says the staff members, vendors, and the community must work together as one. This will elevate the perception, expectations, and reality of the workforce required to bolster the superiority of Toyota’s products and position the Mississippi facility as a leader into the future. Toyota Mississippi sets itself apart because of its locally integrated employee staff, its commitment to the local educational system, and its engagement in the local economy, Suggs said. About 90% of the company’s team members live within a 60-mile radius of their facility, he said. Of those, more than 46% of their team members reside within the local counties. The investment in the workforce has produced valuable associates, a thriving internal and external community, and much needed economic growth, he said.

Building a pipeline with all of the colleges and universities is an added incentive. Toyota’s commitment to workplace training and advancement is evident through their partnership with Itawamba Community College and the University of Mississippi. They initiated a co-op program with Itawamba Community College with two days of onsite training and three days of classroom instruction. This advanced manufacturing technician project promotes sustainable careers for the students, Suggs said. At the completion of the two-year program, students graduate with an associate’s degree and a future they can rely on. The program and the Center of Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi promote local education, highly skilled and qualified personnel, and profitability for the community and Toyota.

Suggs said that Toyota Mississippi has been under great leadership in the past, and he plans to continue building on the advancement of the Toyota way. Suggs currently serves on numerous external boards including the Toyota Wellspring Endowment Committee, the Community Development Foundation, and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi. He has a master’s degree in Business Administration from Auburn University and a bachelor’s degree from Oakland City College in Oakland City, Ind. Sean and his wife, Janet, have six children and two grandchildren. He is fully vested in the community with two of his children enrolled as students at Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Suggs explained that working for Toyota is not enough – it must become a way of life. “We must be brilliant at the basics,” he said.
Stepping into a new era for Toyota and Mississippi, Suggs epitomizes the leadership, integrity and motivation needed to transport the state into the leading automobile manufacturing location in the world.