Toyota is learning.
Before it began taking job applications last month for 300 Kentucky warehouse positions, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. recalled its earlier experiences.
Things went a lot smoother.
To staff its Ontario, Calif., parts distribution center back in 1996, Toyota had invited job seekers to come in and pick up a form. The warehouse was besieged with 8,000 applicants in a single day.
This time, to maintain more order, the car company tried a different approach.
It used nine state and local employment agency offices in three states to distribute the application forms. Job candidates in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana had an entire week to pick up forms at local offices, fill them out and return them at their convenience.
The leisurely, off-site idea apparently went smoothly. The office handed out 20,000 applications and received approximately 18,000 back for just 300 job openings.
Company and state officials said they were relieved that the Hebron, Ky., construction site was not inundated by 18,000 applicants trying to beat a deadline.
Officials also said they were somewhat surprised by the volume. Toyota had opened the small hiring drive to the three-state area partly because unemployment rates in the region are so low.
But Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said Toyota apparently represented a 'step-up' opportunity for many of those in the region who already have jobs. 'You have a lot of people in $8- to $9-an-hour jobs right now, and Toyota is offering wages in the $12- to $13-an-hour range,' he said.
The new Hebron facility will be a retail service parts distribution center stocking 2.5 million parts. While the California center stocks Toyota parts imported from Asia, the Kentucky center will handle the growing volume of vehicle parts sourced from North American suppliers.
The Hebron center, which is scheduled to open in spring 2001, will be two miles from Toyota's U.S. manufacturing headquarters, Toyo-ta Motor Manufacturing North America Inc. in Erlanger, Ky.