No. 3 on Toyota’s list was Atlanta, Lentz revealed. The area offered nonstop flights to Japan, just as Dallas did. But it lacked an escape from the traffic problems and quality-of-life concerns that prompted Toyota to leave suburban Los Angeles, Lentz said.
“It would have been a lot of the same California issues, and you would have traded traffic for traffic,” Lentz said. The move couldn’t just trade one set of problems for another, he said. It had to make life better for its employees.
“California is a great place to be, but it’s really expensive, and the commute times are rough. That’s because a lot of people want to live there. So you can’t knock California,” Lentz said.
“But I think life is a little bit easier for people here, and as a result, I think the work-life balance is much better,” Lentz said. “I think people, as a result, have a lot more energy being here. If you live in Southern California, and you’re driving 2 or 2.5 hours each way, you’re leaving at 5 a.m. and you’re getting home at 8 or 9 — that kind of wears on you.”
Asked if there was any part of the move that Toyota might have done differently, Lentz was calm and confident.
“Yes,” he said. “We should have done it 10 years earlier.”