Toyota Motor Corp. is having a harder time than expected filling the first few hundred jobs at its new pickup plant in San Antonio.
Company officials say they are widening their search to find skilled tradespeople and supervisors for the project, which launches in late 2006.
The $800 million plant will employ about 2,000 people at start-up, plus another 1,000 supplier personnel who will operate on-site.
Although San Antonio is one of the 10 largest U.S. cities, Toyota has discovered that the pool of candidates with manufacturing experience is not large enough.
"Unfortunately, not so many manufacturing companies are in San Antonio," says Seizo Okamoto, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana Inc. in Princeton, Ind.
Okamoto's staff is leading the Texas project start-up. "So now they are suffering to recruit skilled team members - such as maintenance, special maintenance, engineers, tool and die people," he says.
"They have expanded their recruitment area a little to reach out a little further," Okamoto says.
The company originally sought candidates from a 50-mile radius of the plant site. But in recent months, Toyota has run newspaper ads as far away as central Illinois to recruit skilled workers.
The automaker also has developed a program with various colleges around Texas to recruit recent graduates. Toyota also is recruiting recent college graduates from Vincennes University, near Evansville, Ind., even if they don't have work experience, says Norm Bafunno, vice president for production and quality planning with the Indiana operation.
"They're looking to bring in some of those people, maybe without much experience, but to teach them through our own training programs," Bafunno says.
"It's not that we can't find anyone - it's just a little slower."