Toyota exec talks Plano, auto production

IRVING – D’Anne Duclos remembers inventory arriving fast and furious at Toyota dealerships amid shrinking demand for the vehicles.

“I had cars coming at me too fast, and I’d call logistics to help me out,” said Duclos, a former general manager for sales and marketing with the company’s Lexus International division.

She now stands at the other end of things as vice president of Toyota Logistics Services, the first company division expected to arrive at its new North American headquarters in Plano.

Speaking at a May 29 breakfast sponsored by the University of North Texas Center for Logistics Education and Research, Duclos explained how more than 30 years with Toyota prepared her to oversee the logistics operations in Plano.

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But before Toyota Motor North America Inc.’s 2.1 million-square-foot headquarters opens in 2017 along Legacy Drive, just south of State Highway 121, Duclos has house-hunting on her mind while voicing her commitment to Lone Star living.

“It is a separate country and I love it,” Duclos said.

That’s saying something for a woman whose career has seen her move six times, including to Japan, where she lived in 2012 and 2013. Since joining Toyota in 1984 after earning a marketing degree from the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Duclos has held several positions in the company, mostly in sales.

But her latest assignment is different. Instead of tackling marketing plans and sales strategies, she handles all logistics operations in the United States, including vehicle delivery to Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships and export of North American-made vehicles to overseas destinations, among other responsibilities.

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She noted that Plano will be the nerve center not only for Toyota Logistics Services, but for Toyota Motor North America Inc.

“The primary goal of Plano was to bring us all together and make us one Toyota,” said Duclos, referring to the centralization of company operations scattered across the country.

“From a business perspective, it will allow us to collaborate better and respond to changes better and better serve our customers. We feel the future looks bright for Toyota in North Texas.”

Among the 5,000 jobs planned for the Plano campus will be about 60 logistics positions; most of the division’s 1,100 team members continue to work in the field. The Plano logistics team is expected to relocate to temporary offices at the new headquarters by August, Duclos said.

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The company’s move from the Los Angeles community of Torrance comes amid rising demand for autos.

Toyota kicked off this year celebrating a 15.6 percent increase in demand in January compared with the same period last year. The Toyota brand gained 13.5 percent to 146,063 vehicles; Lexus sales rose 31.2 percent in January to 23,131 units and Toyota truck and SUV sales were up 18.6 percent compared with the same period last year, according to IHS Inc., an information and analysis firm.

Toyota executives expect the Plano operation to be a big part of that momentum, with 2.4 million vehicles expected to be sold in the United States alone by year’s end, according to Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc.

Though excited by the new Plano plant, Duclos reminded those at UNT’s transportation seminar that the company is no stranger to Texas. It employs 2,900 at the San Antonio plant that produces its Tundra pickup.

“So our company is definitely not new to the Lone Star State,” Duclos said.

“Plano is where Toyota is coming together, and we’re proud to become a part of your community.”