Thursday, July 13, 2000

Toyota unveils Hebron parts distribution center

By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Toyota on Wednesday unfurled its newest investment in Northern Kentucky: its $85 million service parts distribution center in Hebron, west of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

        Although a year away from being fully operational, Toyota officially opened the 843,000-square-foot warehouse, Toyota's largest, with a flag-raising ceremony for Northern Kentucky officials and employees.

        By next summer the warehouse will employ 370, most of whom were winnowed from 13,700 who applied for jobs at the plant last year.

        The facility, which now employs about 100, will receive service parts from Toyota's 375 suppliers and store and forward them to Toyota dealerships in North America, Europe and Asia.

        Although the building is complete, Michael J. Whitman, vice president of Toyota's North American Parts and Logistics Division, said Toyota will spend the next year installing racks and other material handling equipment in the facility and refining its receiving and distributing systems.

        When fully operational, the warehouse will hold about 58,000 different kinds of auto parts. It will receive or ship one pallet load of parts every 30 seconds. That will translate to about 30 trucks in and out of the site every day.

        Mr. Whitman said plans are for the facility to begin receiving and shipping some parts this fall.

        Despite the facility's size, Mr. Whitman said it won't use a lot of robots or high-tech equipment to move parts.

        “You'll be underwhelmed at the amount of automation we use,” he said.

        “Toyota is people dependent,” he said. “But we don't depend on their backs, but their minds. We want the active participation of the work force.”

        During Wednesday's ceremonies, Toyota made a $50,000 grant to the Boone Conservancy, a non-profit organization focused on preserving the county's green areas.

        “This is an exciting day in Boone County and across the region. While this facility is located in Boone County it affects our whole region,” said Judge-executive Gary Moore, who is also current chairman of Tri-County Economic Development Corp., Northern Kentucky's economic development agency.

        The warehouse, formally known as Toyota's North American Parts Center-Kentucky, joins Toyota's other Greater Cincinnati operations including Toyota Motor Manufacturing's North American headquarters in Erlanger. Those operations and area dealerships employ 2,000, said Dennis Cuneo, Toyota Motor North America's senior vice president.


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- Toyota unveils Hebron parts distribution center
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