In September 2021, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM), a joint undertaking between Mazda Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., started production on the all-new 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, and in January, the company introduced the latest addition to its North Alabama manufacturing lineup, the Mazda CX-50, a crossover SUV that will be available this spring.
These are the moments MTM has been waiting for since first breaking ground on its 3.7 million-square-foot facility in 2018. Originally budgeted at $1.6 billion, in 2020 the company announced it would increase its investment by $830 million, bringing total funding for the plant to $2.3 billion. The plant has the capacity to manufacture 300,000 vehicles annually. To support this massive launch, MTM has closely collaborated with several on-site partners (OSP) that supply parts and critical services. These 15 companies operate at strategic locations either under MTM’s roof, on the MTM campus or nearby. Collectively, they are known as Team ONE — an acronym standing for on-site, near-site and everyone.
Y-tec Keylex Toyotetsu Alabama Inc. (YKTA) is one of the on-site suppliers and provides stamped, welded and painted metal components for vehicles. “We deliver many of the parts that create the structure of the vehicle, so vehicle safety is a strong priority,” explains Jackie Hogan, vice president of administration at YKTA.
She adds that the opportunity to work with both Toyota and Mazda vehicles is particularly exciting for YKTA, which was specifically established to serve the Mazda Toyota joint venture and has invested $272 million, because its three parent companies have special ties to both manufacturers. Y-tec and Keylex are both long-time Mazda suppliers, and Toyotetsu has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Toyota. “This is an opportunity for us to learn about each other and create a new culture and company that reflects the best of all three cultures, as well as the culture of Alabama,” says Hogan. “The location of being right next door to MTM was important in reducing costs and working closely together to deliver a great product.”
The close proximity is also important for building strong ties with the MTM team. YKTA currently has more than 350 employees and plans to grow to 650 once it has ramped up to full production on two shifts. “As next-door neighbors, we have a close relationship and work to be a trusted partner. One of the things MTM encourages is ‘bad news first’ so that we can all work together to address any potential issues early, rather than waiting until the problem cannot be fixed. We value this approach and want the same from our own team members. Never be afraid to tell us about a problem. Early intervention can most times keep it from becoming a big problem.”
Nearby, another onsite supplier, Madison Metal Processing (MMP), a full-service steel processing service center that specializes in blanking and warehousing, occupies a $40 million, 110,000-square-foot climate-controlled facility. The company, a joint venture of majority holder Southern Mobility Products with Toyota Tsusho and SteelSummit Holdings, is a Tier 1 supplier to MTM and produces hot rolled steel, cold rolled steel and exposed and coated steel products.
“The opportunity to work with this joint venture and to expand our company’s presence into northern Alabama with our new partners is something we are all very excited for,” says Joe Lewis, MMP’s vice president. “We are confident in providing our combined experience in producing steel blanks for automotive OEMs such as MTM.”
With full production anticipated by mid-2022, MMP plans to fill 40 positions and estimates it will process up to 5,000 tons of steel per month. When asked what opportunities MTM offers beyond single OEM plants, Lewis says the manufacturing plant offers a more dynamic environment, with a variety of perspectives, strategies and technologies working together to produce high quality vehicles. “As an on-site supplier, we very much value our relationship and partnership in producing these highly anticipated vehicles. In collaboration with MTM, we hope to set a very high bar for automotive manufacturing standards in northern Alabama.”
MTM and their partner companies are expected to bring roughly 7,000 jobs to North Alabama.
Additional Team ONE Suppliers
Other on-site and near-site suppliers are also playing instrumental roles in bringing these new Toyota and Mazda vehicles to the market.
• Aldez, an inventory management and distribution company, serves automotive manufacturers and their suppliers.
• Carter Express manages dock operations at MTM and performs supply chain logistics.
• DaikyoNishikawa US Inc. (DNUS) is an on-site supplier that manufactures large resin parts such as bumpers and instrument panels.
• Green Metals Inc. is a recycling and waste handling company that handles scrap metal recycling, non-hazardous waste recycling and hazardous waste storing and handling for MTM.
• Magnolia Automotive Services LLC is a Tier 1 supplier of tire and wheel assembly.
• Nippon Express USA, a global logistics company, manages distribution center operations for Mazda model parts.
• Penstone USA Inc. develops and manufactures automotive mirrors and window glass.
• Sanoh America Inc. specializes in tubular products, including small diameter tubing with corrosion resistant coatings, plastic tubing assemblies for fuel tank and engine applications and brazed products for engine applications.
• Systems Automotive Interiors Alabama (SAIA) is a Tier 1 supplier that handles the final assembly and sequencing of seats for the Toyota and Mazda models.
• Toyota Boshoku AKI USA (TBAKI), a near-site provider located in Athens, manufactures seat components for the Toyota Corolla Cross.
• Toyota Boshoku Mississippi manufactures door trim panels.
• Vulteq USA (near-site location) focuses on injection parts manufacturing and assembly, as well as preparing glass for installation in windshields and windows.
• Vulteq USA (on-site location) provides more than 70 production service processes that support MTM vehicle assembly.
Katherine MacGilvray is a Huntsville-based freelance contributor to Business Alabama.
This article appeared in the March 2022 issue of Business Alabama.