At Toyota Material Handling it would be unusual to go a full week, or even a full day, without being reminded of the company’s Core Purpose: Helping People Carry the Load. In a literal sense, Toyota forklifts help lift equipment that an ordinary person would be hard-pressed to even budge. Figuratively, though, that purpose means much more.
One of the goals of TMH reads as follows: “Live our core purpose, serving our communities and protecting our environment in ways that are sustainable.” There it is again – that Core Purpose. The wording is a little different this time, putting emphasis on the community. Similarly, a plaque outside the office of TMH President & CEO Jeff Rufener reads, “Toyota’s founding principle – the reason we exist – is to contribute to society. We can never lose sight of our core purpose, and we will always look for ways to give back to the Columbus community in which we live.” Both the community and the people living in it are emphasized in the TMH values, so is it any surprise that Toyota Material Handling sets time aside for its employees to volunteer?
Every Toyota Material Handling associate is given a set amount of paid volunteer time each year. It’s during that time that associates can help mulch a garden or stock bins with food or clothes for underserved members of the community. It’s time that associates leave the office or plant and return to the community, helping people close to home from 8-to-5. According to Human Resources Specialist Danielle Nickerson, associates used almost 964 hours in 2019. In fiscal year 2021, that number has increased to almost 4,674 hours used for volunteering within the community. People on every level are encouraged to promote volunteer opportunities and to keep track of the things that each department could do as a volunteer group.
Associates are given a great deal of freedom when choosing where they want to use their volunteer hours. TMH partners closely with United Way, which has 17 different agencies beneath their umbrella, the American Red Cross, and STEM Education. During quarantine, groups of associates worked with the American Red Cross to create face masks. For our annual Lift the Community day on July 9, TMH has partnered with 13 different organizations within the Columbus area, including opportunities for stocking shelves at San Souci and cleaning up litter in the surrounding parks.
In the future, TMH aims to achieve 80% volunteer hour utilization for 13,000 hours devoted to volunteering each year. In working toward that goal, a new CSR engagement room is being installed. All associates would be able to visit the room for short volunteer opportunities, and new hires would end their orientations by spending an hour creating STEM kits in that room. This way, the core focus on volunteerism will be shown to employees from day one in the form of a hands-on, team building experience that helps the community in the process.
Toyota Material Handling isn’t just forklifts. It’s the people who band together to help better the lives of those around them with unwavering compassion, humility, and engagement. That commitment to the community and its people is what proves TMH is an organization truly dedicated to its values.