PLANO — On Tuesday morning, Toyota broke ground on its new North American headquarters in the most fitting way: Using a Texas-built Toyota Tundra pickup truck to turn the soil.
On hand were North America CEO Jim Lentz; Plano's mayor, council and staff; and dozens of Toyota employees who have already made the transition to North Texas.
Alba Reyes and Terri Von Lehmden made the move early. Both are considered Toyota "pioneers," and work for the project management office of the manufacturing giant.
"It's different, but I think it's exciting, because it's a different place," Reyes said. "It's more of a neutral location for everyone to come together."
Reyes made the move in August from New York, and Lehmden arrived with her husband and two kids from Ohio.
"Of course it was met with a lot of excitement at first, and I think as people start to understand their individual and personal situations, everyone has to process it for themselves," said Lehmden, who is excited about the transition.
The new headquarters — located in Plano, south of Highway 121 off of Headquarters Drive — will ultimately employ 4,000 people. Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz hopes to retain most of his own.
"We hope that they come," he said. "We are encouraging anyone within the company today that wants a job in Texas will have a job in Texas."
The remaining positions will be open to Texans and anyone else who applies.
Toyota's move may also prompt more moves and from partners and vendors. But Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere is keeping quiet, for now, as business decisions are likely being made.
"There's been a lot of economic activity," he acknowledged. "There's more to come for sure."
It will be two years before the new headquarters opens for business. So as the company transitions, its employees will, too.
"I think the hardest part is having to leave your friends and family behind," Reyes said. "But I know I'm with a company I want to work for."
Mayor LaRosiliere said the city stands to benefit from $140 million in sales and property tax revenue over the next 10 years because of Toyota's move.