by Max Brantley
(Marion, AR) Hino Motors Manufacturing USA, Inc. (Hino) today advised all of the hourly and salaried employees at its manufacturing facility in Marion, Arkansas that there will be no layoffs or terminations as a result of the dramatic slowdown in pick-up truck and SUV sales.
Recently, Toyota announced that beginning August 8, it will suspend production of Tundra pick-ups and Sequoia SUVs for approximately three months. Hino Arkansas makes axles and suspension components for these two Toyota vehicles.
Hino Arkansas will reduce parts production for an indefinite period. Hino’s Team Members will similarly work a reduced schedule during this period. In addition to limited manufacturing, Hino Team Members will engage in a variety of non-production activities, such as Kaizen (continuous improvement) and 5S (facility maintenance). Hino will continue to provide full health insurance benefits to the Team Members during the reduced schedule period.
In addition, Hino and the State of Arkansas, including Governor Beebe’s Rapid Response Task Force and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, as well as the Mid-South Community College, are teaming together to provide various skill and technical training to Team Members during the periods they will report to work. Details of these programs are being worked out among Hino, the State, and MSCC, and will soon be shared with Hino Team Members.
While it will not discuss details, Hino confirms that it is seeking new business from Toyota for the Marion facility.
QUESTION AND ANSWER
Q. Why is Hino reducing production?
A. The severe downturn in the pick-up truck and SUV market, which at least in part is a result of high fuel prices, has affected all automakers. Hino Arkansas’ customer, Toyota, recently announced that it would idle production of the Tundra and Sequoia for a three month period beginning August 8. Hino Arkansas is responding to the component needs of its customer.
Q. How many axles and other parts will Hino produce during this period?
A. Specific numbers have not been identified. Production will be modest.
Q. What does it mean that Team Members will work a reduced schedule?
A. It is anticipated that Team Members will report for work three days in a five day week period – 24 hours. Team Members may actually produce parts during these hours, perform Kaizen (continuous improvement) and 5S (facility maintenance) activities, and participate in various training modules.
Q. How will Team Members be paid during this period?
A. Team Members will be compensated for hours that they are required to report for work. Team Members will also be eligible for unemployment benefits. Hino will continue to provide full health insurance benefits during the reduced production period.
Q. What types of training programs will be made available to Team Members? Will the programs be mandatory or voluntary?
A. Working with the State of Arkansas and Mid-South Community College, Hino anticipates that several manufacturing and technical skill improvement programs will be made available, among others. The training programs will take place on the days that Team Members are required to report for work.
Q. What new business is HMM seeking from Toyota or other OEMs?
A. HMM is discussing new business opportunities with Toyota, but will not comment further at this time.