October 26, 2007

TG celebrates 20 years in Perryville

By Don Pritchard, with submitted photos

PERRYVILLE – Toyoda Gosei pulled out all the stops to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its first North American plant earlier this month.

TG Missouri President Takashi Fujii

High ranking TG officials joined with Gov. Matt Blunt and other dignitaries, employees and friends for a luncheon at the American Legion Hall followed by a celebration at the Perry Park Center that included performances by the local high school bands and 70s supergroup The Little River Band.

Missouri Governor Blunt

Twenty years ago TG (Toyoda Gosei) Missouri opened its first plant in Perryville with 35 employees. Today, the company has 1200 workers in four plants at its Perryville campus.

Rhonda Ruark is TG's General Manager for Corporate Administration. She says TG manufactures parts for Toyota automobiles.

"We make the driver’s air bag, we make the passenger air bag, we make the steering wheel. We make a lot of the console parts and the dash board accessories and air vents and coin holders and a number of different parts," she said.

Ruark says TG came to the USA and Missouri after Toyota began manufacturing automobiles in the state of Kentucky. Toyota wanted their parts suppliers to be nearby. At the time, Perry County had an unemployment rate of more than 10 percent.

"Toyota looks for their suppliers to be within about a 20 mile radius and having good highway systems and a good employment base," she said. "This was a prime place for people eager to find employment."

That's how TG came to Perryville.

The story of how TG got the Little River Band to perform at their celebration is just as interesting:

Ruark says the celebration of its 20th year in Perryville was already in the planning stages two years ago when she and her family were vacationing in Florida. They heard the "Little River Band" playing there and her husband suggested she try to get them to play for the celebration.

So, a sell out crowd of between 2,200 and 2,300 TG Missouri employees, families, friends and Little River Band fans from as far away as Cape Girardeau and St. Louis and even further away packed into the Perry Park Center to celebrate TG's 20th anniversary in Perryville in a big way.

The celebration also included performances by the Perryville and St. Vincent High School bands.