Today, it needs Bodine more than ever, says Daly, a onetime General Motors manager who ran Toyota’s big West Virginia powertrain assembly plant before moving upstream to mission-critical Bodine.
Step 1 under the TNGA rollout is to ship the new heads and blocks to Toyota’s truck-engine plant in Huntsville, Ala., where they will be turned into Tacoma pickup engines. Next will come the new V-6 blocks and heads for the Lexus RX, built in Ontario, and the Toyota Highlander, assembled in Indiana, and then for the Toyota Camry and Avalon made in Kentucky. Following that will come the blocks and heads for newly designed global four-cylinder engines, and then for a new V-8.
None of which was on Bob Lloyd’s mind when those first phone calls came in from the Wall Street banker.
Lloyd joined the St. Louis job shop in 1977 at age 23 and worked his way up through positions on the foundry floor and in sales. When Toyota appeared at the door, Bodine was already more than 75 years old.
Toyota was unaccustomed to the practice of buying out existing companies. And it was particularly unaccustomed to taking over American businesses.
Lloyd’s young management team was asked to remain with the acquisition and given a new mission: to construct an all-new Bodine plant in Troy, Mo., 40 miles outside St. Louis, that would exclusively serve Toyota’s needs.
But the group felt strongly that it should remain being called “Bodine” to avoid confusing its hundreds of Midwestern customers who had no interest in automotive.
“We debated that a lot over the years,” Lloyd says of the family name. “If you look along this wall,” he adds, pointing to photos of Bodine family members and old scenes from 100 years of molten metal activities, “you’ll see a lot of Bodine history. It’s important to us to remember the roots of the company, and Toyota also recognizes that that history is important.”
For years, Lloyd even resisted including the Toyota name on his employees’ company shirts and caps or over the plant doorways.
“I’m a Toyota man these days,” Lloyd declares.
“When Toyota came along, it was a huge opportunity for us. We were a small, family-owned job shop. We got to build a new plant in Troy and then another one in Tennessee. It was an opportunity for my management group, for myself and for all the new employees we were able to have.”
In addition to the 250 nonautomotive workers in St. Louis, Bodine employs a combined 1,000 in Troy and here in Jackson. Those 1,000 have always perceived themselves as “Toyota” because they arrived after the acquisition.