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Toyota’s Andrew Kirby is 2022 Business Leader of the Year

President and CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) Andrew Kirby was named 2022 Business Leader of the Year at the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies Awards. The award was presented at the Empire Conference and Events Venue in Parktown, Johannesburg.

The Business Leader of the Year Award is based on nominations and votes by business leaders. Kirby was recognised for the stewardship role he played in resuscitating the Toyota Prospecton Plant in Durban after it was severely damaged by floods in April.

The mud was between 0,6 and 1,8 metres deep over the entire 87-hectare site, causing extensive damage to electrical, mechanical and IT equipment. TSAM had to order just over 100 000 new equipment parts to replace the damaged ones, while around 4 300 flood-damaged vehicles had to be crushed.

A top disaster management executive dispatched to the site by parent company Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) stated that it was “the most extensive damage to any production facility within Toyota globally”. However, by the end of July the plant had started ramping up production and regained full production in September.

TSAM’s Prospecton Plant produces Corolla Cross and Quest as well as segment leaders Hilux, Hiace Ses’fikile and Fortuner – while also assembling a variety of Hino commercial vehicles.

In his acceptance speech, Kirby said: “I really believe that the challenges that we faced during the pandemic from a manufacturing, retail and export point of view – and then of course, the riots in July – helped us to be prepared for what happened this year [floods in KwaZulu-Natal]. It is not something we’d ever wish on anyone, but they [the challenges] helped us to grow and develop our capabilities and resilience – as an organisation – to be able to survive and even flourish…”

“This recognition is a tribute to everyone at Toyota South Africa, from the executives, management and the entire workforce who displayed remarkable resourcefulness, commitment and perseverance to achieve what can only be described as a small miracle.”

Sunday Times Editor S’thembiso Msomi said celebrations such as the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies Awards remind South Africans of the resilience of its people and its institutions. “The success of the companies and individuals that we celebrate tonight should encourage all of us in our little corners to know that we should not lose hope,” said Msomi.

TSAM has been the country’s sales leader for more than four decades and is currently enjoying a market share of 24.4% year-to-date – courtesy of close to 107 000 Toyota-, Hino- and Lexus-branded vehicles sold (out of the industry total of 437 467). This is notwithstanding the months when TSAM could not produce high-volume sellers such as Hilux, Corolla Cross and Hiace Ses’fikile due to suspended operations at Prospecton Plant.