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Toyota president meets workers at Georgetown plant

By: Janet Kim Email
By: Janet Kim Email

Many at the Georgetown Toyota plant say Thursday’s visit from their company’s leader was the pick me up they needed following a string of hardships for this company.

For the first time, Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda made a visit to Georgetown’s Toyota plant. He was greeted by workers and a throng of photographers as he walked along the assembly line where the very cars that define his company are made.

The visit comes just a day after the Toyota CEO gave an emotional apology at the congressional hearings on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers demanded answers from the car maker following the massive recall of millions of vehicles.

However, with a different audience the tone was more positive and the speech he made to his employees one of hope.

“Your presence there gave me strength, and it inspired me,” says Toyoda.

Employees say his visit was motivating.

“He didn’t come in here scared but with a vision of what the company is going to do,” says Steve Turley, an employee for Toyota.

Longtime employee Lisa Webb added to those sentiments.

“I was really encouraged by it, that he stopped and took time out of his schedule to say we’ll be OK,” says Webb.

Mr. Toyoda not thanked his employees for their support during his visit, but also pushed all to do better.

“We need to rethink everything about our operations to regain customer confidence… we need to reassert our values,” he says

The last visit from a CEO to the Georgetown Toyota plant was nearly a decade ago.

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He promised a new commitment to safety, and now, Toyota's top man is bringing his message to Kentucky.

Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda is meeting workers at the Georgetown Toyota plant Thursday afternoon.

It's the first time he's ever made a visit to the plant.

The visit is on the heels of congressional hearings in Washington, where Toyoda took questions from lawmakers.

Those hearings looked into Toyota's recall of millions of vehicles of multiple models due to safety concerns.

Wednesday, Toyoda took full responsibility for his company's safety problems, and admitted Toyota lost sight of its priorities.

Toyoda said the automaker's business growth overshadowed its commitment to safety.

He vowed the company will get back on track.

"My name is on every car," Toyoda told lawmakers. "You have my personal commitment that Toyota will work vigorously and unceasingly to restore the trust of our customers."

Through a translator, Toyoda said his company will deal differently with complaints in the future, and that the company will consult outside experts on the need for recalls.

He also promised to give all the information U.S. safety investigators request.

Friday, the assembly lines at the Georgetown plant will shut down for the day.

That announcement was made earlier this month as a result of sluggish sales.

Toyota leaders are also considering shutting down the plant three other days in the spring.


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