Barry

Barry Roberts of TMMI speaks to Wabash County Chamber of Commerce members Thursday, April 13.

MOUNT CARMEL — Two-hundred Wabash County residents are currently employed by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, and with current plans of expansion, that number could continue to increase.

TMMI's Barry Roberts shared the news of the plant's $60 million expansion and the search for 400 additional workers with Wabash County Chamber of Commerce meetings Thursday.

Roberts also gave general information about what kinds of vehilces TMMI makes, including the Highlander, Sienna and Sequoia.

"If I rank those in terms of what we rank most, it would be the Highlander," he said. "We can't make enough Highlanders, which is a great problem to have. Last year we made 229,000 Highlanders and we still have people waiting."

That high demand for the Highlander SUV led to the aforementioned expansion announced in January to make an additional 40,000 Highlanders each year starting in 2019, Roberts explained.

All of the vehicles TMMI produces are already sold, which is a unique aspect of the plant, Roberts said. From the facility in Princeton, Indiana, vehicles are shipped to 37 countries across the world.

Producing 1,600 vehicles a day is no easy task, and both blue and gold shifts frequently work mandatory overtime.

"We have a vehicle that comes off the line every 76 seconds," Roberts said.

As a result of the fast-paced, effiencent work, TMMI is expecting to produce its 5 millionth vehicle sometime in May.

It's hard work, but any able-bodied and high school educated person has the opportunity to work for TMMI, Roberts said.

"We have a lot of folks who have been there for a very long time and we have 20-year-olds that come straight out of high school that are doing quite well," Roberts said. 

He said employees come from all walks of life, whether they were former nurses or teachers.

Gary Ritz of First National Bank commented that Toyota's average salary has appeared to increase to $58,000 a year, and Roberts agreed that with all of the overtime it could range from $58,000 to $65,000.

Roberts encouraged the community to come out for one of the plant tours, which are held every weekday at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. More information about the plant tours can be found at tourtoyotaindiana.com.

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