CEO Dialogue, Frank Voss – December 2021

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Inc. (TMMC) is Toyota’s vehicle assembly operation in Ontario, Canada. Established in 1986, and in production since 1988, TMMC runs three separate production lines (2 in Cambridge and 1 in Woodstock) across a total of 5.4 million sq. ft. and employs over 8,500 Team Members. TMMC is the most awarded plant for quality in the Americas (2nd most awarded plant globally) and has produced over 9,000,000 vehicles to date.

Frank Voss, President, TMMC, has more than 30 years of automotive manufacturing experience, and has previously held several management positions at TMMC, including GM of the Lexus Manufacturing Division, GM of Production Control, and GM of Information Systems.

To close out our 2021 CEO Dialogues, Frank joined an intimate group of OG100 members and gave his insights on the future of manufacturing, the current labour environment, and the most important lesson he’s learned during the pandemic.

With a 30+ year history of demonstrated success, TMMC has long relied on the incredible talent and skill of its Team Members to generate kaizens and innovations that have continued to power unmatched production efficiency and overall competitiveness. TMMC operates in a relatively high-cost environment, so effective and efficient deployment of resources is critical to remain competitive when compared to other Toyota plants operating in lower-cost jurisdictions. The digitization of manufacturing allows for better real-time information and improved (and faster) decision making. The ability to anticipate problems before they happen – and prevent them – allows Team Members to focus on value-added work, while intelligent automation solutions like autonomous parts delivery, collaborative robots and advanced vision systems offer low-cost and reliable solutions to reduce overall cost.

Retaining and attracting talent is clearly one of the greatest concerns of business leaders today, reinforcing our need to leverage and enable our greatest strength – our people. Our teams are our greatest resource and need to be deployed efficiently and effectively. With increasing competition for talent, TMMC is casting a wider net to attract new team members. Twenty years ago, an ad in the paper would attract 10,000 applicants. It’s not that way anymore. The pandemic has created new sources of labour competition. People are not leaving Canada; they’re working from Canada for US companies. This is a new source of competition that we haven’t had to deal with before, and it may be permanent. As we move toward Industry 4.0, we need a new type of Team Member – a technician – to leverage and maintain the increasing degrees of automation and autonomy that we introduce into manufacturing operations. In Ontario, we are fortunate to have a highly-educated workforce, and access to strong talent pools through various partnerships with local universities and colleges.

Over the past two years we’ve been faced with numerous changes, new and changing protocols, and continued uncertainty. We’ll only succeed if we tackle the solution together. To do that well, everyone needs to understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We can sometimes forget that our people and our teams are more resilient than we think. Be transparent, communicate what you’re doing and why, and you’ll receive more support than you might expect.