Toyota move to Texas is latest blow to Southern California

Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:26pm EDT
 
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By Robin Respaut and Paul Lienert

NEW YORK/DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp. (7203.T: Quote) said it will move its U.S. sales headquarters from southern California to suburban Dallas, delivering the latest blow to California in a fight for jobs with arch-rival Texas, whose Governor Rick Perry has been actively poaching businesses from the Golden State.

The relocation from Torrance, a Los Angeles-area city of about 150,000, will bring much of the Japanese automaker's U.S. operations under one roof in Plano, Texas, including sales, service, marketing, advertising and quality. Also moving to Texas will be some manufacturing staff now based in Erlanger, Kentucky, and corporate operations staff based in New York City.

Toyota is the largest employer in Torrance, accounting for more than 5 percent of all jobs in the city with 3,837 workers in 2013, according to the city's annual financial report. About 2,000 people from Toyota Motor Sales in Torrance will be affected by the move, and about 4,000 U.S. employees in all, the company said.

Toyota's move, which will take place in stages between this summer and the end of 2016, is the latest by a major employer to defect to the Lone Star State from California. Toyota has been in California since 1957, when it set up shop at a former Rambler dealership in Hollywood.

In February, Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY.N: Quote) said it would move from Los Angeles to Houston. In 2009, power company Calpine Corp (CPN.N: Quote) abandoned San Jose for Houston and in 2006 engineering company Fluor Corp. (FLR.N: Quote) relocated to the Dallas area from Orange County.

TRAVEL TO TEXAS

It's "sad news," Torrance mayor Frank Scotto said at a press conference Monday. "Toyota has been an integral part of the city." He said his son-in-law works for Toyota, so he faces the prospect of having to travel to Texas to see his daughter and grandchildren.

Toyota's decision also means all three of the major Japanese carmakers will have exited the state where they first got their footholds in the United States. Nissan Motor Co (7201.T: Quote) in 2006 moved most of its operations from Gardena, California, to Franklin, Tennessee, outside Nashville. Last year, Honda Motor Co (7267.T: Quote) decided to move a number of executives from Torrance to Columbus, Ohio.   Continued...

 
Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto (C) speaks, reacting to an announcement by Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. that it is relocating its headquarters from Torrance to Texas, during a news conference at Torrance City Hall in Torrance, California April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian