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Who We Are

Toyota Experience Matters!

True Lean™ Instructors and Coaches include former Toyota leadership, many of whom were among Toyota’s first North American management. Toyota has dedicated an Executive-in-Residence to our program as we maintain a strong relationship with Toyota to teach the true essence of the Toyota Production System. Our Instructors and Coaches have supported numerous organizations through their successful transformations. We put the right team together to deliver, coach and support you toward the development of your System.

Kozo Saito

Kozo learned TPS directly from the current Toyota Honorary Chairman, Fujio Cho. Dr. Saito is the founding director of 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 under his ambassador’s role.

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Nelson Akafuah

Nelson 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.

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Glenn Uminger

Glenn 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.

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Richard Alloo

Richard retired from Toyota in 2012, after 25 years with the company. 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.

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Pete Gritton

Pete was Toyota's ninth 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 for over 22,000 team members at Toyota's North American assembly and parts manufacturing and engineering sites.

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Cheryl Jones

Cheryl began her 22-year Toyota career in 1987.  Starting as a supervisor in manufacturing, Cheryl advanced through Toyota, eventually achieving VP of Manufacturing. She has extensive TPS and Toyota Way knowledge and experience in both manufacturing and administration. This encompasses: final vehicle assembly; robotic painting; and, parts delivery from supplier to final vehicle assembly.

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Ken Kreafle

Ken joined Toyota in 1987. During his distinguished 31 years with Toyota, Ken 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 success of the North American vehicle launches.

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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, David transferred to Operations Management Development Division (OMDD). While at UK, David has been focused on supporting TPS deployment in undergraduate & graduate level education.

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Sandra Dunn

Sandra 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. She also manages many of the True Lean campus onsite functions and the support teams.

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Tony Chamblin

Tony retired from Toyota after a 20-year career, serving in multiple roles. During his time with Toyota, Tony gained deep TPS and Toyota Way knowledge and experience, developing standardized work, setting up work stations, and applying practical problem solving. He also coached Quality Circles, Jidoka, and on and applied Kaizen.

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Bill Cooper

Bill has been a member of the True Lean Systems Group since 2000 , joining the team following 19 years in industry. During his tenure with the University, Bill has worked with other team members on the creation, delivery, and continuous improvement of True Lean Certification and other training offerings.

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Luther Cottrell

Luther began his career at Toyota in 1988. Luther deeply understands TPS & Toyota Way from each level’s perspective having begun as a Toyota Team Member, and then advancing to Team Leader, Group Leader, Assistant Manager, and then, Manager. Luther’s departments won the Quality Circle for three consecutive years.

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Steve Davis

Steve has been working with True Lean since 2000, as an Ergonomics education provider. He supports clients as they improve conditions for team members at all levels. His focus is to systematically identify the true root cause in order to prevent the problem from recurring.

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Garry Elkington

Garry has 38 years of Toyota experience. He began his Toyota career in Australia, and continued with assignments in Japan and North America. In Australia, Garry joined Toyota as a team member in Power Train, and eventually became the plant General Manager.

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Crittenden (Crit) Fisher, Jr.

Crit has 16 years of Toyota experience, and 14 years experience as a True Lean instructor, while also supporting Toyota suppliers. While at Toyota, Crit worked in Quality Engineering. He also advised and supported new project launch management, planned & had oversight of investigations, and planned & introduced new equipment.

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Debbie Gayhart

Debbie serves as a True Lean Administrative Support Associate, and Conference Coordinator.  She has been with the program since 2011.  In this role, Debbie ensures on-campus and client onsite participants have the necessary materials and appropriate environment to learn True Lean elements, and to interact with both the practitioners and the participants from other organizations on the True Lean journey. 

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M. Abbot Maginnis

Abbot serves as the Academic Coordinator for True Lean, to develop knowledgeable and workplace-ready students for Toyota and other organizations. These students gain a deep understanding of True Lean principles and practices, and the true essence of TPS. Abbot collaborates with True Lean instructors to lead transformational and problem solving activities.

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Ownie McBride

Ownie began working with Toyota in 1998, supporting through executive coaching, development of leadership at all levels, strategic planning, strategic communications, change management, and assessments. She joined True Lean in 2009, where she shares her Toyota knowledge and experience, as well as successes supporting other organizations

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David Parsley

David has been a member of the True Lean team since 2008. During this time at the University, he has assisted in the delivery and facilitation of standardization, 8 Step problem solving, and model area development within a variety of manufacturing organizations. He also facilitates the Lean Systems Certification.

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Dorothy Rapp

Dorothy serves as the True Lean graphic designer and marketing manager. She has been with True Lean since 2011, and with the UK College of Engineering for almost 32 years, having designed and edited both educational and promotional materials for many areas of the College. Dorothy supported the first True Lean practitioners with the creation of the initial True Lean materials (early 90’s).

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Carol Sampson

Carol retired from Toyota after a 26-year career as an executive where she led the North American employee relations, security, internal communications, labor, and supplier support function. She successfully implemented lean Human Resources programs that ensured stable and positive employee relations at Toyota’s North American manufacturing facilities.

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Bryant Sanders

Bryant retired from Toyota in 2018 after 25 years of service. During his tenure with Toyota, Bryant served as an executive with experience in start-up launch management, supply chain & logistics, accessory development, supplier development, quality, production operations, and Toyota Production System (TPS) deployment.

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Melanie Smith

Melanie serves as a True Lean Administrative Support Associate and Conference Coordinator.  She has been with the program since 2016.  In this role, Melanie ensures on-campus and client onsite participants have the necessary materials and appropriate environment to learn True Lean elements, and to interact with both the practitioners and the participants from other organizations on the True Lean journey

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Brian Stephens

Brian Stephens serves as the Business Officer for the University of Kentucky Institute of Research for Technology Development (IR4TD). He has been with the Department since 2013. In this role, Brian manages the Institute’s financial and accounting policies and procedures as well as human resource functions.

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Vicki Smith

Vicki’s 25-year career with Toyota spanned Engineering, Manufacturing, Tool & Die, New Model Introduction, and Production Control. During her career at Toyota, she was the Body Operations Diversity Leader, Vice-Chair for the Women’s Leadership Exchange Network, and served as Secretary and Board Member of the Girl Scouts of America, Bluegrass.

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Edward R. Welch

Edward retired from a distinguished 26-year career at Toyota where he focused on Maintenance, Engineering, and Quality. At Toyota, Ed led numerous North American Maintenance Best Practice Initiatives and Self-Reliance Initiative. He set standards for TPM, Bronze, Silver and Gold Level, and he co-authored TPM Global Standard with TMC Japan Maintenance Leaders.

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