GEORGETOWN, KENTUCKY, (August 23, 2010) — The announcement of Wilbert W. (Wil) James as TMMK’s new president was not a surprise to people familiar with the Georgetown operations or the business community of Central Kentucky.
James started at TMMK as a group leader in 1987 before the plant even built its first vehicle. The next 20 years provided a variety of opportunities and challenges as he continued to gain valuable experience utilizing the Toyota Production System. And, his leadership skills and qualities didn’t go unnoticed. James was soon named General Manager of Production Administration and later assumed responsibilities for Assembly operations at TMMK — Toyota’s largest plant in North America. Eventually he was named Vice President of Manufacturing and remained in that position until 2006.
Prior to returning to TMMK, James held positions as Senior Vice President for Manufacturing and Quality at Toyota’s Indiana plant and was President of TABC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. located in Long Beach California (See Wil James’ complete bio here).
“Actually, my dad is a big reason why I’m in the automotive business,” stated James during a recent community reception in Lexington, Kentucky. “As I was growing up, dad used to work on cars on the weekends to pick up extra money and I was his free labor to help him along the way.”
James remembers those days well, especially one particular Saturday night. “We had to change out an engine that day. You see, I couldn’t go out with friends or on a date until we were through. I thought, 'no fun today!' But, my dad said we would get it done before dark and we did. Those years have stuck with me.”
And, so has his family. In fact, more than twenty family members were present during Toyota’s official community reception recognizing TMMK’s seventh president including Wil’s father — Wilbert W. James, Sr.
“It was great having my family with me and of course my wife, Michaelene, has been by my side and I honestly couldn’t have done this without her.”
James says he’s ready to role up his sleeves and get back to work at the site where his Toyota career started. “This is an incredible team. They are hardworking, reliable, thoughtful, and full of ideas on how to make our operations better everyday.”
History of TMMK Presidents
Kaneyoshi Kusunoki (January 1986 – December 1988)
Fujio Cho (December 1988 – October 1994)
Mikio Kitano (October 1994 – June 1998)
Masamoto Amezawa (June 1998 – April 2001)
Gary Convis (April 2001 – June 2006)
Steve St. Angelo (June 2006 – August 2010)
Wil James (August 2010 -
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc.