I’ve taken the tour over at Toyota now twice and look forward to going again now that the RAV4 Hybrid is on the production line. I was curious about the tour guides and how they came to Toyota, so I sat down with Stephanie to learn a little more about her. We spoke a bit about working at Toyota and then strayed to some more personal and “outside the box” questions.
She was born and raised in Frankfort, the only child of parents both in the education world. Her dad was a principal at a vocational school and taught drafting. He was sending his students over to Toyota to work. Her mom worked for the Council for Post-Secondary Education.
Following high school, Stephanie worked for the Peace Corps as a volunteer in Latvia, which is the former Soviet Republic. She taught ESL and can speak Latvian.
What is your favorite part about being a tour guide at Toyota?
I love sharing with our guests the amazing culture and that there are so many different opportunities for working in a place where you feel valued. Its amazing that we have a lot of families of the people who work here come and take a tour. You don’t show off where you work unless you are proud of where you work. I like to tell people this is not only a good place for a job but a great place for a career. It’s also fun to have the ability to amuse people in a serious environment and business.
What is your favorite season?
My favorite season is autumn. It’s when the temperature is sort of normal. You can go out and do things and not be too hot or too cold. It’s also when we start getting a lot of student groups. It’s fun to find ways to motivate the students about their future. They go on the tour and they just have these looks of awe and wonder. It’s fun to get them excited about manufacturing and the way we do business and treat our team members.
If you sang at karaoke, what song would you sing?
I would sing “So Low” – so low you wouldn’t hear me – she says with a chuckle.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
I had a very charmed childhood, it was very education driven. I think now, in the position I am in here at Toyota and think of how it’s a culmination of everything that is important to me and my family. I work in a job that I am proud of and I’m teaching about a great product that is made in the US, right here in Kentucky. The education piece is still very much a part of my life today, just as it was in my childhood.
What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?
It’s travel – a lot! I’ve always wanted to go to the South East, Asia, the Pacific Rim, New Zealand. Really anywhere I can learn about a new culture.
What is your tip about taking a tour at Toyota?
Come back more than once for a tour – it really is an overwhelming sensory experience. We have a dynamic environment that is always changing. We are also putting the RAV4 Hybrid line live in January and what most people don’t realize is that it’s going on our existing line where we make the Camry. You will also see the fun cultural atmosphere here – you may see employees playing pool on their break or at lunch. If you are lucky enough, you will see someone “pull the Andon cord” which stops the entire production line. It’s what any employee can do when they see something that needs to be fixed or can be improved upon. It really is powerful to see.
What is your favorite word or phrase?
“Facetious” – I learned it at a very young age. I remember using this word at a very young age in front of one of my dad’s colleagues. He challenged me about what it meant, and I knew it. He was stunned.
Any final thoughts?
Come Visit and say “Hello!”
Taking a Tour at Toyota
Each year Toyota hosts up to 35,000 visitors on their tours. Tours are offered five days a week, Monday – Friday. Tour times are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:30am, 11:30am and 1:30pm. On Thursday there is an additional tour at 6pm. Tour reservations can be made online at TourToyota.com/kentucky.
To see who else has been featured in our Humans of Lexington (#HumansofLexington) series click here.