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Who We Are

Toyota Experience Matters! In Who We Are

TRUE LEAN Instructors / Coaches include former Toyota leadership, many among Toyota’s first North American hires. We maintain a strong relationship with Toyota to teach the true essence of the Toyota Production System. We put the right team together to deliver, coach and support you toward the development of your System.

Kozo Saito

Tennessee Valley Authority Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Director, Institute of Research for Technology Development (IR4TD)

Kozo Saito learned TPS directly from the current Toyota chairman, Fujio Cho.   Dr. Saito directs the UK Institute of Research for Technology Development (IR4TD), which houses both R&D and True Lean.  Both were initiated by the sponsorship from Toyota in 1994.  In addition to the Toyota Group, IR4TD's sponsors include Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, Nissan, Admatechs, Asahi Sunac, Cradle, and YH America.  Dr. Saito joined UK in 1986 as Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering, and became the Tennessee Valley Authority (Endowed) Professor in Mechanical Engineering in 2001.  Prior to UK, Dr. Saito was at Princeton University, first as a Research Associate to conduct experimental combustion research, and later was promoted to Prof. Research Staff.     Dr. Saito completed his degrees (B.S. 1975, MS 1977, Ph.D. 1980) at Seikei University, Japan.   He conducted post-graduate study at the University of California at San Diego, before going to Princeton.   Dr. Saito is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, chair of the International Scale Modeling Committee, and a former committee member of the National Research Council. He holds visiting lectureship with Nippon Steel Corp, University of Tokyo, had an IPA assignment at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and was a joint research collaborator with NASA and USDA Forest Service. Dr. Saito is the holder of total of twelve international patents.

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Nelson Akafuah

Lecturer, Associate Director, Institute of Research for Technology Development (IR4TD); Director, Automotive Production Engineering Certificate

Nelson Akafuah has served IR4TD since 2005, first as a Research Assistant, then as a Post-Doctoral Research Scholar, and Assistant Research Professor.  In addition to serving as IR4TD Associate Director, Nelson currently serves as a Faculty Fellow in the College of Engineering and Chair of the Engineering Technology Implementation Committee. He is also Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering and  Director of the Undergraduate Production Engineering Certificate.   His impressive body of work has been published in books and several scholarly refereed journals.  Nelson earned his Lean Systems Certificate in 2013.  He received his B.Sc., Mechanical Engineering, KN University of Science and Technology, Ghana; his M.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of New Orleans; his Executive MBA, Jack Welch Management Institute, and his Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, from the University of Kentucky.  Nelson’s careers have focused on product/process development and structured problem-solving.

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Glenn Uminger


Glenn Uminger served 27 years as a Toyota executive during its rapid North American development and expansion. In addition to being a leader on the startup team (1987) of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), Glenn continuously learned and applied TPS and Toyota Way through Manufacturing, Supply Chain, and Administration. During his tenure, Glenn led the development of Management Accounting, the TPS Office, and JIT Logistics; led the development of, and then served as head of Production Control and Logistics Divisions at Toyota’s North American Headquarters; and, led development of the North American Integrated Logistics Network. He also: was a key member of the Site Selection and Development team for all new Toyota Operations in North America; served as overall Leader to establish Toyota’s new vehicle plant in Mississippi; and, led the strengthening of the TPS practice at Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) achieving TPS application success in a non-manufacturing environment -- improving the effectiveness between Sales and Manufacturing organizations. Before his 2014 retirement, Glenn served two years as the Toyota Executive-in-Residence and Director for True Lean. He has continued with True Lean, and today serves as its Director. Prior to Toyota, Glenn held management positions with FMC Corporation for 10 years, working with Manufacturing, Design Engineering and Sales/Service. He holds a B.S in Accounting from the University of Kentucky, and an MBA from Xavier University in Cincinnati.

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Richard Alloo

Richard Alloo retired from Toyota in 2012, after 25 years with the company, and a total of over 40 years in manufacturing and related industries. Richard was a member of the original management team responsible for bringing the Toyota Production System (TPS) from Japan to the US during the construction, start-up and subsequent expansion of Toyota’s operations in North America. Through the unique opportunity to work with the founding members of Toyota’s North American manufacturing team, Richard has direct experience in the development and deployment of Toyota’s management systems in environmental activities, production process design, production planning, new product introduction, parts control and logistics, budgeting, human resources development and manufacturing research & development. He held individual Section, Department and Divisional management positions at both the Plant and Regional level in North America. Prior to his retirement, Richard was assigned as Executive-in-Residence at the University of Kentucky where he worked to develop programs and materials and apply the fundamentals of TPS in various fields of interest. At retirement, he held the position of Project General Manager in the Operations and Management Development Division of Toyota’s North American headquarters. Prior to joining Toyota, Richard held various engineering and environmental positions within General Motors Corporation at their vehicle assembly plants and Central Office. He holds degrees in Electrical Engineering, from General Motors Institute, and Law, from the Stanford University Law School.

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Sandra Dunn

Administrative Staff Officer

Sandra Dunn has served for over 30 years with the True Lean program. As the Client Relations & Development Manager, she is most often a client’s initial contact with True Lean. Sandra’s first interaction with clients is to understand their specific needs, and then, based upon her rich knowledge and experience, to connect the client with the most appropriate True Lean Leader, Instructor and Coach. She also has joined True Lean leaders for onsite visits to domestic and international clients to understand first-hand the challenges clients face in transformation activities. Sandra’s goal is to provide for the client a customized, needs-based approach to meet clients where they are on their True Lean journey. She also manages many of the True Lean campus onsite functions and the support teams. Sandra holds an Associate Degree in Business Management.

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Pete Gritton

Pete Gritton was Toyota's 9th manufacturing hire in the US. During his 22 year tenure, Pete served in numerous positions, eventually retiring as the VP of Human Resources for Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing of North America. In 1986, at the start up of Toyota’s first wholly owned manufacturing facility in the United States (TMMK), Pete's first position was Employee Relations Manager. He served TMMK in numerous positions and functions including Production Control and HR. Pete was promoted to VP in 1998, and in 2005, moved to Toyota’s North American headquarters as VP of HR for over 22,000 team members at Toyota's North American assembly and parts manufacturing and engineering sites. Toyota's HR function was at the strategic table to ensure full team member engagement in TPS and Toyota Way as the Company expanded throughout North America. This included executive & management development, culture sustainability, change management, compensation, succession planning, and open two-way communications. Upon his retirement in 2009, Pete joined the UK True Lean Program as an Instructor and Coach. In this role, he shares not only his vast Toyota knowledge and experience, but also his experience assisting other organizations with True Lean transformations. He holds a BA in Government, and MA in Organizational Communications from Western Kentucky University.

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Cheryl Jones

Cheryl Jones began her 22 year Toyota career in 1987. Starting as a supervisor in assembly manufacturing, Cheryl advanced through Toyota, eventually achieving Vice President of Manufacturing. She has extensive TPS and Toyota Way knowledge and experience in both manufacturing and administration. This encompasses: final vehicle assembly; robotic painting using solvent borne and waterborne paints; and, parts delivery from supplier to final vehicle assembly. During her tenure at Toyota, Cheryl also served as Toyota's senior advisor at its new truck manufacturing facility in Baja, Mexico (2005), and then served as the regional team leader for all six Toyota North American assembly plants’ self-reliance initiative. Named as one of the 2005 Automotive News Top 100 Women in the Automotive Industry, Cheryl also led Toyota North American Women's Leadership initiatives, such as the Women's Leadership Exchange Network as a senior advisor, and In the Interest of Women. Upon her retirement in 2009, Cheryl joined the UK True Lean program as an Instructor and Coach to transfer her knowledge and experience around the globe. She has a degree in Business Management from the University of Kentucky and a degree from Northwood University in Information Systems Management and Business Management.

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David Keown

David is the Toyota Executive in Residence at UK.  He started at Toyota in 2000, as Assistant Manager in Die Manufacturing. After nine years learning the Toyota method of die manufacturing, David transferred to Operations Management Development Division (OMDD).  OMDD is responsible for deploying the Toyota Production System and developing Toyota & supplier company management in TPS thinking and philosophy.  During 11 years in OMDD David developed expertise in leading and managing Jishuken activities, Standardized Work Kaizen Leader Training, Material and Information Flow Chart Training, Shop Floor Problem Solving, and A3 Thinking and Writing. While at UK, David has been focused on supporting TPS deployment in undergraduate & graduate level education.  David’s education includes an associate degree in Agriculture from Purdue University, a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in Manufacturing Management from Kettering University.

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Ken Kreafle

Ken Kreafle joined Toyota in 1987. During his distinguished 31 years with Toyota, Ken held numerous positions. He was the chief production engineer for the new generation Avalon, and worked closely with the Toyota North American Manufacturing Companies (NAMC’s), Toyota Technical Center (TTC) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) to ensure the success of the North American vehicle launches. His most recent assignment at Toyota was general manager of Vehicle Production Engineering. Ken also was assigned to supplier Futaba, as Vice President of Operations. While at Toyota, Ken twice served as the Toyota Executive-in-Residence with UK’s College of Engineering True Lean Program, serving as its Director. Since his retirement from Toyota in 2018, he has continued his relationship with True Lean, serving as a senior advisor. In 2019, Ken was inducted into the Shingo Hall of fame. https://www.engr.uky.edu/news/2019/05/ken-kreafle-inducted-shingo-hall-fame He also served as an advisory board member for the Department of Mechanical Engineering, UK College of Engineering, and a member of the Board of Directors for Northern Kentucky University Research Foundation. A native of Maryland, Ken earned his BS and a Master’s Degree in industrial technology. He completed his master’s thesis on Industrial Robotic Applications at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Industry Extension Specialist

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Lean Systems Program Academic Coordinator; Director, Lean Graduate Certificate Program

Industry Extension Specialist

Support Professionals

Administrative Support Associate

Administrative Support Associate, Conference Coordinator

Administrative Staff Officer