Proclaiming that “Texas is truck country” and “you do everything a little bigger here,” Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz stood back while a 2015 TRD Pro Series Tundra pickup roared into view, scooping up mounds of dirt as the Japanese automaker formally broke ground this morning on its new North American headquarters in West Plano.
“We believe in efficiency, and that’s really more efficient than a lot of little shovels,” Lentz said after the pickup, outfitted with a plow like a bulldozer, had come to a halt.
The unusual ceremony marked the “first work” on Toyota’s new, $350 million headquarters campus at the intersection of Headquarters Drive and Palomino Crossing. Companies helping to build the 1M s.f. complex include developer KDC, architect Corgan Associates, and project manager JLL. KDC CEO Steve Van Amburgh, who attended the ceremony, said a contractor for the project could be selected by next month.
Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere joined Lentz and about 100 dignitaries for the groundbreaking, which also featured six “wish” trees—a Japanese tradition—inside an installation spelling out the word “TOYOTA.”
Each of the Texan Yaupon Holly trees was festooned with red tags featuring handwritten notes from students at Plano ISD Academy High School. The tags, which said things like “I hope to be a better artist” and “I want to go to a good college,” will be collected from the trees and placed in a time capsule at the new campus.
The trees themselves will be planted permanently once the headquarters is completed in late 2016 or early 2017. At full build-out the campus is expected to be home to about 4,000 Toyota employees.
During a brief news conference after the groundbreaking, Lentz said it was too early to tell yet exactly how many workers would transfer to the Texas complex from Toyota facilities in California, Kentucky, and New York. However, he added, there will be plenty of jobs available for Texans.