Gulf States Toyota Distributors - History


Carroll Shelby, famous racecar driver was approached by Toyota in 1968 about becoming an automobile distributor. According to Shelby,

"I turned it down because I went to Lee Iacocca, and he told me not to take it because the domestic makers were going to push the Japanese back into the ocean."

Shelby told his racing buddy, Tom Friedkin, about Toyota's intentions to sell distributor licenses. Friedkin flew to Japan and convinced Toyota that he had the necessary knowledge and resources.

Gulf States Toyota brought the first Toyota vehicle to Houston, Texas in 1969, when all Toyota vehicles were manufactured in Japan and imported into the US. Three years later, the company employed 35 associates and had sold 5,000 cars and trucks through 14 dealerships. GST also completed construction of a processing center on a 33-acre (130,000 m2) site at the Port of Houston.

In 1979, GST won the Import Vehicle Triple Crown by being first in import car, truck and combined import sales in the United States with 65,826 vehicles sold.

The NUMMI plant, a joint venture with General Motors, opened at Fremont, California in 1984 and was Toyota's first assembly plant in the US.

Gulf States Toyota completed construction and opened its Parts Distribution Center (PDC) near Sealy, Texas in 1986. Today, the PDC provides dedicated parts delivery to over 150 dealers, shipping nearly 100% of all orders every day.

By 1994, GST had exceeded 100,000 in total vehicle sales and outgrown its processing center at the port. GST opened its 80-acre (320,000 m2) Vehicle Processing Center on Houston's Northside, built to handle 150,000 vehicles a year. The facility is served by rail and transport trucks and employs over 600 associates.

With vehicle sales steadily increasing, GST outsold Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (Torrance, CA) in import car market share in 1998. With record sales in 2000, GST processed 11% of all Toyotas sold in the United States.

In 2003, GST helped name Houston's premier sports and entertainment venue—the Toyota Center. Toyota broke ground on its 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) truck plant in nearby San Antonio, Texas. The plant, which produces the full-size Tundra pickup, represents a $1.58 billion investment in the community. At year's end, GST exceeded 149,000 total vehicles sold.

In 2005, Gulf States Toyota was named the #1 privately held company in Houston by the Houston Chronicle's Chronicle 100 list. GST was also listed at #40 on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Companies. By the end of the year, more than 185,000 vehicles were sold through 145 dealerships.

Production began at San Antonio's Texas truck plant in 2006. That same year, GST's Vehicle Processing Center expanded to 150 acres (0.61 km2) and GST had sold 226,960 vehicles at year-end.

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