When Toyota chose San Antonio as the site of a new plant to build its Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks, it was putting down roots in a dominantly Hispanic city with no automotive industry presence. Seeking successful Hispanic leaders as potential Tier I suppliers, Toyota decided on a lawyer, two entrepreneurs, a scientific researcher and a staffing professional — respectfully and affectionately known as The Five Compadres.
To learn the automotive business, four of the Compadres were paired with Tier I Toyota suppliers to form joint ventures, and they traveled all over the U.S. and to Japan to learn the suppliers’ processes. They were also trained in the Toyota Way: Respect for People and Continuous Improvement — and in turn, they trained their employees.
Today, their organizations assemble components, wheels and tires; provide on-site logistics and cross-dock operations; and supply truck interiors, plastic truck parts and carpeting, plus fully assembled truck beds.