For the past 20 years, when Toyota Motor Corp. has talked about entering new North American markets, it has had a secret weapon: a small, little-known supplier unit to storm the beach.
The history of TABC Inc. reveals that it is not merely the humble supplier of catalytic converters depicted in Toyota's corporate brochures. Instead, TABC is a virtual commando unit for new American business missions.
At one time, the company was called Toyota Auto Body of California Inc., but that name no longer is in use.
"We've never really received a lot of attention," says Dave Dedinsky, vice president for the wholly owned Toyota parts subsidiary in Long Beach, Calif. "We've been quietly doing our job for Toyota."
But consider the company's resume:
"We're kind of a unique plant for Toyota," Dedinsky says. "We're the only parts plant that has also crossed the line and become a complete vehicle assembly plant."