Last year, Toyota North America announced that it would consolidate its far-flung operations in California, Kentucky, and New York at a new North American headquarters facility in west Plano. The $350 million, 2.1 million-square-foot campus, located in the Legacy West development south of State Highway 121, is scheduled to be completed by early 2017. The eco-friendly, glass-and-Texas limestone complex on 100 acres eventually will house at least 4,000 employees. Here, CEO Jim Lentz talks about the move.
Q: HOW DID YOU COME TO PICK NORTH TEXAS?
We started with a list of criteria that was half business-related, half team-member related. On the business side, we wanted something close to our manufacturing footprint. We did not want to be in a highrise, so we needed about 100 acres. And we wanted a good airport that was in close proximity to all our plants and [would enable us] to get to Japan. On the team member side, we wanted good schools, a reasonable cost of living and housing, and less stressful commutes. North Dallas really stood out.
Q: WHERE IN DALLAS - FORT WORTH HAVE THE EMPLOYEES CHOSEN TO LIVE SO FAR?
What is interesting, and what I had hoped for, is that people are finding different places to live as they come here. We’ve got people in Prosper, in McKinney, in Frisco, in Plano, out in Southlake. I’m in Westlake.
To me, that’s the true test that we chose the right place: the people have options. I think once we have all 4,000 people here, we’re going to see the same kind of “scatter” take place.
Q: HAS ANYTHING SURPRISED YOU ABOUT NORTH TEXAS?
I don’t know if surprised is the right word, but the genuine friendship from people here has been fantastic. The other part is that, even when you talk to politicians here … they are all on the same page about what’s best for Texas. It’s always, ‘Do what’s best for Texas.’ I didn’t have that experience in California, where there were truly two sides on most issues, and it wasn’t necessarily about what’s best for California. Here you guys have the formula down.