60th Anniversary Reflections: Looking Back and Ahead
Chief Executive Officer
What year did you start working for Toyota? 1982
What was your job? Merchandising manager
What is your best memory from back in the day? This was soon after I started with Toyota in the Portland Region. I had a habit of getting into the office early before anyone else. One morning I heard a knock on the door and saw a Japanese couple standing out in front. It turned out to be Toyota Motor Sales President Isao Makino and his wife. He wanted a car and a map so he could go visit dealers to find out what was going on with customers. So, I gave him a Cressida and a map, and he spent a week visiting with dealers. No advance calls, no entourage, just plain talk with our dealers. That’s when it hit me that Toyota was a very different kind of car company. It was the Toyota Way’s genchi genbutsu in action and it made a huge, positive impression on me.
What do you love about the company now? Developing our people and seeing them progress in the company.
Avondale Toyota, Avondale, Arizona
What year did you start working for Toyota? 2004
What was your job? We opened the dealership in February 2005 and my position at that time was finance director.
What is your best memory from back in the day? Starting a business from the ground up with a One Price/One Person sales process that was revolutionary in the industry. None of us had the recipe and we were all working together to build a unique and special business platform.
What do you love about the company now? How forward-thinking Toyota is, not only in the automotive industry, but from a massive international company perspective. Toyota looks to the future and is always pursuing R&D to improve and prepare for the next generation.
Executive Vice President – Sales
What was your job? Warranty processor
What is your best memory from back in the day? I’m a product person so my best memories involve some of the iconic vehicles in my 36 years at Toyota: the 1993 fourth-generation Supra, the first-generation Prius in 1997, the introduction of Lexus in 1989 and the first RAV4 in 1996. These are the vehicles that really changed the industry.
What do you love about the company now? Toyota is built on relationships, internally among team members, and also with our dealers, suppliers and parent company in Japan. It’s been a pleasure for me to witness all of the entities of Toyota coming together in one location. The new campus is gorgeous, there’s a lot of energy there, but even more important is we’re setting the foundation for the next 60 years of Toyota. We’re becoming much more nimble and able to react to the marketplace.
Capitol Toyota, Salem, Oregon
What year did you start working at Toyota? 1995
What was your first job? Lot attendant
What is your best memory from back in the day? It was always exciting as a kid to see the customers all around the store and getting in the new cars with that new-car smell.
What do you love about the company now? Toyota does a great job making every interaction (whether at the dealer level or at the national level) genuine and personal.
Katherine Johnson Cannata
Wyatt Johnson, Clarksville, Tennessee
What was your job? Dealer principal
What is your best memory from back in the day? The first day I became an official Toyota dealer, no less than 10 Toyota reps came to visit. I was so amazed at the amount of support given to us from day one. That support continues today.
What message do you have for other dealers as we celebrate our 60th anniversary in America? Live it up! Being a Toyota dealer is an incredible gift and opportunity that most people don’t have. Use your voice and your dollars to support this great country in which we live.
Senior Vice President
What year did you start working for Toyota? 1982
What was your job? Distribution analyst in the New York Region assisting the regional operation at Port Newark.
What is your best memory from back in the day? Watching a succession of events that allowed the company to grow, develop and mature as an industry leader that centered around our products and people both internally and in our dealerships.
What do you love about the company now? Toyota’s willingness to invest in new things such as Toyota Connected, the Toyota Research Institute and our new North American headquarters. And also, our focus on our team members.
Group Vice President/General Manager
What year did you start working for Toyota? 1992
What was your job? Management trainee in distribution and sales.
What is your best memory from back in the day? It was my second or third day in the sales department. I was to put the daily sales report on each executive’s desk by 5 a.m. On this day, I went to Mr. (Bob) McCurry's office by 4:45 a.m. and he was already waiting for me. He simply said, ‘Jack, (I couldn't believe that he remembered my name) you know why I love athletes? Because they are always competing. Go and compete and enjoy Toyota.’ That memory has always been vivid to me.
What is the one thing you want customers or others to know about Toyota? Toyota will never stop innovating and improving. We can and will do what most people believe is impossible.
Classic Toyota, Waukegan, Illinois
What was your job? Sales
What is your best memory from back in the day? Growing our business from about 50 new Toyotas a month to over 100. We did this out of a 7,500-square-foot building. Today we operate out of a 50,000-square-foot facility.
What do you love about the company now? Toyota’s commitment to the future of mobility whether it’s conventional vehicles, hybrid, fuel cell or electric. They are focused on being a difference maker in whatever the future might be.
Johnstons Toyota, New Hampton, New York
What year did you start working for Toyota? 1983
What was your job? Salesperson for my first 13 years.
What is your best memory from back in the day? When I was a little boy my father would bring home FJ Land Cruisers.
What do you love about the company now? Toyota is always looking to be the best in the business.
What is the one thing you want your customers or others to know about Toyota? More goes into a Toyota than any other car. The value of the car far exceeds what other manufacturers do.