June 16 • 01:25 AM

'Toyo Seat USA' marks 20 years

Auto supplier lauds employees, community

Toyo Seat Chairman Seizo Yamaguchi (center) is joined Thursday by Imlay City employees and Kim Marrone, Chamber of Commerce director. photo by Tom Wearing.

September 29, 2010
IMLAY CITY — Management and staff at Toyo Seat USA were feted Thursday, Sept. 23, during a 20-year anniversary celebration at the Imlay City plant.

On hand for the special event were Chairman of the Board Seizo Yamaguchi and President Toru Yamaguchi.

Local dignitaries present included Imlay City Manager D. Wayne O'Neal, Mayor Rodney Warner, DDA Director Monica Irelan, Chamber of Commerce Director Kim Marrone and others.

The Yamaguchis expressed appreciation to the Imlay City plant's 130 full- and part-time employees for their hard work, loyalty and commitment to excellence.

After recognizing 28 20-year employees with plaques and handshakes, Toru Yamaguchi spoke of the challenges faced by the company during these difficult economic times, both domestically and internationally.

"This is a great day for Toyo Seat and I'm proud to be here," said Yamaguchi. "I'm happy to stand here with all of you today.

"Toyo Seat has been able to get through this recession and we thank you for staying with us. Thanks for all your best efforts."

Toyo Vice President and Imlay City Plant Manager Johnny Smith reciprocated by crediting the Yamaguchis with standing by their employees.

"I remember when we started out on the top floor of the old Imlay City Hall with just five people," Smith recalled. "Over time we've grown and have gotten through some tough times.

"We've learned how to work together, adapt and be creative while facing these new challenges. These lessons will serve us well over the next 20 years.

"Through the support and patience of the Yamaguchi family, we've been able to navigate through these difficult waters and prosper," Smith continued. "I'd like to thank the family for having the confidence in us through good times and bad."

Toyo Seat officials noted that the slumping economy had forced the company to lay off employees. An uptick in business and confidence has resulted in some of them returning to their jobs.

Salann Proctor of Fostoria had worked at the Imlay City plant as a full-time assembler for 10 years. After being laid off for about a year, she returned to her former duties on March 1, 2010.

"I'm very happy and thankful to have been called back," said Proctor. "I'm glad the company is doing well. There are a lot of great people at this plant and I'm proud to work here."

Mayor Rodney Warner acknowledged the manufacturer's perseverance and commitment to the community.

"I was here on the day this plant opened," said Warner. "Toyo Seat has made a major commitment to Imlay City. We've enjoyed an excellent relationship and are grateful and proud to have you in this community."

Company spokesperson Daniel Serwick tipped his cap to fellow employees, noting their contribution's to Toyo's continued success.

"It is my belief that any company is only as good as its employees," said Serwick. "Toyo Seat is blessed to have the best workforce I have ever worked with.

"It is through their hard work and dedication that we have been able to survive the downturn in the auto industry. And it is the reason we will be here for many years to come."

The following employees were acknowledged for their 20 years of service to the company. They include: Johnny Smith, Chiyoko Bruce, Mike Major, Natalie Franko, Martha Bearinger, Sandy Parkes, Bryan Cloyd, Tim Campbell, Hiroko Lee, Tim Dufort, Paul Vedolich, Mike Kelley, Bev Ankley, Dennis Whitehead, Scott Coenen, Cindy Smith, Mark Ocenasek, Ed Medbery, Scott Walkup, Dave Bradburn, Melissa Bailey, Al Shepherd, Tim Bruman, Teresa Schwerin, Todd Eisinger, Debbie Judd, Rose Bluhm and Brian Fike.

Editor's note: Toyo Seat Co., Ltd. was established in January of 1962. The company manufactures automotive seats, motor vehicle parts and accessories. In January 1988, Toyo Seat USA Corp. was established in Imlay City to spearhead the company's entry into the United States market. Domestic plants have since opened in Kentucky and Tennessee. Toyo Seat's philosophy is to: "Hold our vision throughout the world, to be always ready to take new perspectives, and to respond quickly to customers' diversified needs with fully developed technology."

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.
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