To watch more of Neill’s interview with Sean Suggs, president of Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina, watch this web extra. Here he discusses his family, how the job application process for the plant will run, how ready the community is for this facility and his book (yes, he is a published author!)
Sean Suggs has heard his angel sing— again!
“I Hear My Angel Sing,” is the title of his autobiographical/inspirational/faith journey book he published in 2015. I’ve got to say it’s one of the most candid life recollections I’ve read. I mean, he covers the good, the bad and the ugly. I don’t know if I’ve met another person with a larger collection of life “experiences.”
One of the most interesting parts is his description of his childhood during which he spent a lot of time in Rocky Mount (his mother’s hometown) in eastern North Carolina.
He told me during a recent interview his time in those warm Carolina tobacco fields during this time was his first experience with hard work.
“It taught me a lot about you gotta get up and make a living,” he said. “You gotta get up and work hard. But you also have to work together collectively to make things happen.”
And after growing up in multiple cities, primarily Baltimore, spending 8 years in the United States Army and holding down multiple jobs, he ended up leading a team making Toyota Tundra pickup trucks in the company’s plant near Evansville, Indiana in 1998.
Fastfoward to today. Suggs is now president of Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina, the $3.8 billion factory that will employ 2,100 people in the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite.
The plant’s scheduled to start operations in 2025.
It will make lithium-ion batteries for Toyota’s multiple hybrid-electric vehicles (HEV) each of which uses both a battery-powered electric engine and a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine working in tandem.
It will also make batteries for Toyota’s new lines of battery electric vehicles (BEV) which use no gasoline and produce zero emissions. Toyota plans to build 30 versions of BEVs by 2030—five years after the North Carolina plant is scheduled to ramp up.
Suggs predicts it’ll probably be mid-2025 depending on how construction goes.
“So we start small. We go a little medium. We go a little mid-medium, and then we take off,” he said. “And typically that takes about a six-to-eight month window where we’re really humming along.”
The company plans to start hiring in January of 2023.
“We’re looking for someone who has energy and excitement and eagerness for more,” he told me. “You don’t have to have a four-year degree, a two-year degree. All those things are nice, but we’ll take you.”
But Suggs is quick to point out Toyota is reaching out to local community colleges as well as North Carolina A&T State University to coordinate training programs.
He also points out Toyota plans to “uplift” the community. In fact, he says in the 50 years Toyota’s been in the United States, it’s given $1.5 billion to philanthropic causes in this country.
Most recently, Toyota announced it’s giving $500,000 to NC A&T for its college of education to set up a STEAM lab for K-12 learners to get them more interested in fields like manufacturing.
It’s also giving a half-million dollars to Communities in Schools of Randolph County which helps K-12 students who are struggling with academics or other challenges.
“We’re gonna be here for the long term,” he said. “When Toyota comes, we have no expiration date, and we believe that.”
Just as he believes he’s heard his angels sing.
For more information on Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina, click here.
For more information on applying for work at Toyota, click here.
For more information on “I Hear My Angel Sing” by Sean Suggs, click here.