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Toyota De Puerto Rico Celebrates 10 Years On Island

Company President Mario Davila takes a look back at the achievements, challenges, and plans of the local Toyota, Lexus, and Scion distributor


July 8, 2004
Copyright © 2004 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Toyota de Puerto Rico (TDPR), a division of Toyota Motor Sales USA (TMS), is celebrating a decade as the distributor of Toyota and Lexus vehicles in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands since acquiring the distribution rights from Gomez Hnos. in 1994.

Representatives of the local auto industry as well as stateside and international Toyota representatives will be attending a cocktail and dinner party to mark the occasion July 8 at the Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel Spa & Casino. These include TMS President Yukitoshi Funo, TMS Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Jim Press, TMS Senior Vice President & Chief Coordinating Officer Massy Tomozoe, TMS Senior Vice President & Treasurer Mikihiro Mori, and Toyota Motor Corp. American Division General Manager Koichi Ojima.

"These past 10 years have been challenging, most of all [with regard to] the development of our dealership network," TDPR President Mario Davila told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS during an exclusive interview. TDPR currently has 24 Toyota and Lexus outlets in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"Originally," he said, "our dealers didn’t provide parts and service, only sales, so that was our largest area of development. Through consulting and training programs, we’ve been able to beef up dealership sales as well." Another achievement for TDPR in the past decade has been the strengthening of the Toyota and Lexus brands through aggressive marketing and advertising campaigns, said Davila, who joined TDPR in 1997 and became president in 2002. He expects to do the same with Scion, Toyota’s new car division aimed at Generation-Y. Scion is slated to make its local debut later this year.

Through the dealership programs and advertising campaigns, explained Davila, Toyota has become a premier brand. It obtained the top spot in local sales in 1998 and has remained the industry leader ever since. Year-to-date sales of Toyota are up nearly 14%, and the brand commands an impressive 26.6% share of the local market, based on its sales of some 30,173 units in 2003.

One of the factors that helped Toyota become the No. 1 auto brand in Puerto Rico was the arrival of Toyota Credit, Toyota’s financial arm. Currently, 40% of all Toyotas sold in Puerto Rico are financed through Toyota Credit, said Davila.

According to Davila, the success and growth of Toyota in Puerto Rico hasn’t only to do with unit sales. It also has to do with the company’s relationship with the community and with its employees.

"As part of our public-relations efforts to strengthen the brands, and as a way to give something back to the community for the great support it has shown us, we created the Toyota Foundation and the Lexus with the Arts program," said Davila.

It is easy to reach the top, said Davila, but it is just as easy to fall. "That’s why it’s so important to be in continuous development, looking back at your best practices and seeing how you can improve them," he said. "There is always room for improvement."

Part of Toyota’s strategy for remaining No. 1, said Davila, involves regularly offering consulting and training programs to its dealers and instilling a philosophy of service in them. "Good service is what ultimately will give you a loyal customer and a repeat buyer. It’s what Toyota calls kazen, or continuous improvement," said Davila.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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