Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Toyota executive in Kentucky asks businesses to employ more people with disabilities

From The Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky.:

One of Toyota's top executives appealed to Lexington business leaders Jan. 21, asking them to offer not money but work to non-profit Lex-Pro (pictured), which arranges work for people with disabilities.

"We are asking for some ideas and suggestions or for you to keep Lex-Pro in mind if something comes up," said Steve St. Angelo, Toyota's chief quality officer for North America and chairman of its sprawling Georgetown plant.

St. Angelo knows firsthand that Lex-Pro's workers are capable. He gave an enthusiastic approval this year for a group of them to work inside the plant doing sub-assembly work on exhaust brackets. An 11-person team started Jan. 3 and rotates in five at a time. Their work is checked by assembly-line workers.

"It's amazing to see the individuals — the smiles on their faces — be a part of (Toyota)," Lex-Pro's Dan Wills told the 20 or so people at the luncheon. "Toyota's done some amazing things for us in the short period of time we've known them. First of all, they invited us into their plant. Not too many people will take that step."

Toyota's work with the group began a few years ago when St. Angelo visited Lex-Pro's facility in Lexington.