Long-time auto executive Doc Lane examines why Nevada has failed to attract big-time automobile manufacturers to the Silver State
By Doc Lane
Recent Mad Dog Blogs addressing Toyota and Honda and their interest in Nevada are accurate. As a former employee of both of these companies, I have seen first-hand how they were both caught up in the glitter and growth of Las Vegas never seeing the end of the rainbow.
As times have changed, so have the opportunities. Now the big question is whether or not our state’s politicians are smart enough to do business with aggressive and demanding companies.
Toyota and Honda are both cash rich companies which control powerful lobbyists in Washington to keep their dominance of automobile production on a continual model of growth regardless of the cost.
Toyota executives flew in corporate Gulfstream Jets to Las Vegas through the period of 2003 to 2008 to plot locations for additional franchises for Toyota and Lexus. Honda was playing follow the leader.
Toyota executives and employees are taught Toyota corporate culture. The term “Kiazen” is a company motto meaning “Do a better job than you did yesterday” and “continual daily improvement.” The company does everything it can to do business with you, as long as the conditions and terms are favorable to them.
Toyota closed the NUMMI plant in Fremont, Calif. last year. Despite the state of California giving every possible concession it could, the stone cold Toyota machine replied by saying thank you and shutting the plant down.
Good bye, California.
In my opinion, Nevada has never had a governor or state senator in the last 35 years who could deal with the Japanese’s business machine. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid has seen small towns across America prosper because of the investment of the foreign car manufacturers who have invested in America.
In the meantime, Nevada’s political forces have suited themselves to the gaming industry without any focus of the value of the Nevada tax structure to provide an economic boom to Nevada. Pursuing the automobile industry's invaluable manufacturing and distribution plants has not proven to be a priority.
The area near Tropical and the I-15 in the northern Las Vegas valley is a prime location. It has a new rail head and huge automotive and vehicle storage facilities operating there now. It has access to the I-15 highway systems, and it is four hours to a port location in Long Beach Harbor in California. The area is connected to rail, roadways, and the high seas.
An automobile manufacturer could store massive amounts of parts here; and redistribute them throughout the Western Hemisphere with substaniational tax advantages which create net dollars for them, and huge economic windfall into the community.
Automobile manufacturers see the value of Las Vegas investing into the infrastructure which will benefit the living conditions of their employees.
Make no mistake that Toyota-Lexus builds a superior product. In the same breath, it provides for its assembly and manufacturing employees for the short and long term of their lives.
In return, Toyota-Lexus builds a quality product with the best tools and materials to deliver a top-notch product at a competitive price.
Nissan has a plant in Smyrna, Tenn. Smyrna is close to Nashville, and the upscale area of Franklin. I have been there. Nashville has an NFL team and a NHL hockey team.
If you have ever been to Nashville, you know that it is no bigger than a medium size city; yet the disposable income from all of those who are part of the Nissan economy, support these types of sports, The malls are busy and the parking lots are full of Nissans, All of the town’s people show their appreciation by purchasing Nissans to help the communities and state of Tennessee.
This story is repeated in Texas, Mississippi, Indiana, South Carolina, and Kentucky. If Nevada had a business ambassador, he or she would be responsible for bringing commerce; long in waiting to Nevada – and especially Southern Nevada.
The local casinos would again become a boom if Toyota or Honda commit to moving forward because of working people having disposable income for entrainment.
Las Vegas is a class of the world with hotels and casinos. Any manufacturer, who builds automobiles in volume, would ensure the financial stability for the state, and bring the casino industry and new customers that has been gone for five years.
The business community as a whole needs to embrace this opportunity if it becomes public. And if it does not, some political representative should go to every manufacturer and say, Come to Nevada.”
In the car business, we teach that if you don’t ask for business, you won’t get the business – and that remains true whether you’re talking about the local sporting goods business or an automobile manufacturing plant.
I trust that U.S. Sen., Harry Reid is listening. I also hope that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is listening, too. We need a business ambassador who is beating on the doors of big-time automobile companies encouraging them to expand to Southern Nevada.
What time did you say the new business ambassador reports for work?
Time is wasting and Nevada’s coffers are in the worst shape ever. The Silver State is ready for the addition of a major automobile manufacturer and its many benefits like what has been found in several others states.
Let’s hope Nevada’s politicians are listening.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Doc Lane is a veteran former automobile executive who has lived in Las Vegas for 30 years.