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Toyota Ja gets MoBay makeover

BY BRIAN BONITTO
Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment
bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 11, 2020

JAMAICA'S top-selling car dealership, Toyota Jamaica, will be cutting the ribbon to its new state-of-the-art facility in Ironshore, Montego Bay, St James, at the beginning of November.

Construction on the more than 20,000 sq ft building began in May 2019.

Tom Connor, managing director of Toyota Jamaica, shared his company's plans with the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine recently.

“The overall investment is US$7 million... It's not just a showroom. It's what we call a 3S facility — it's a new kind of showroom — it's a sales department, a service department, and spare parts department,” said Connor, who has been in the driver's seat of Toyota Jamaica for the past eight years.

“It's based very much on our facility on Old Hope Road. So if you look to our facility in Montego Bay, you'll see it's the same facility on Old Hope Road,” he continued.

Connor said an adjoining lot to the current facility was acquired for Toyota Jamaica's expansion. He said the new building would comply with Toyota's global corporate identity in terms of sizes of the bays, and specifications of work stations. However, it would have a Jamaican twist.

“The furniture is made in Jamaica. In fact, anything we can get manufactured in Jamaica, we get it manufactured here in Jamaica,” he said.

Connor said customers who take their vehicles to be serviced will have a designated area to watch the entire process in a comfortable setting.

“We'll also have a coffee shop, so the customer can have coffee and snacks, while their vehicles are being serviced. We're also gonna have a gym — it's for workers and customers. Now, obviously that would need to be carefully monitored with the whole COVID situation just now, but hopefully we'll soon be over that,” said the managing director.

Toyota Jamaica's head huncho said the new facility would mean an increase in the workforce, as an additional five people would be hired to hike the staff complement to 32.

“We'll be taking on a mixture of skilled and unskilled workers, but mostly skilled,” he said.

Toyota Jamaica has travelled this road before. In 2016, it opened its 26,000-sq ft Old Hope Road office to much fanfare. Connor attributed that move to listening to the voices of the customers.

“When we did Old Hope Road, there was a demand for that service facility in that area because people weren't happy to leave home then go to Spanish Town Road, then get to work, then get back [to Spanish Town Road to collect their vehicles]. It was inconvenient. We initially started to look for a service facility and then said: 'Let's just go the full hog and do a 3S facility.' That's proved very worthwhile,” he said.

Last calendar year, the Japanese-made auto manufacturer sold close to 3,000 vehicles in Jamaica. But given the onslaught of the novel coronavirus, the Spanish Town Road headquartered company is lowering its targets between 35 per cent to 40 per cent compared to the previous year.

“Before the COVID, things were going pretty well. But we just see it as a bump in the road and hopefully we'll see the country back on track,” said Connor.

“Jamaica loves Toyota for reliability, durability, availability of parts, and good service and we respond to customers needs,” he continued.

The managing director said, come next year, they will be unveiling something new to the public.

“If you look at the overall market over the last 10 years, it has moved from passenger cars to SUVs and we're having more SUVs in our line-up rather than passenger cars. So early next year, we'll have the Corolla Cross. The Corolla [which] is the best-selling car in the world is now going to be on an SUV platform, so we're very much looking forward to that,” he added.