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Toyota shuffles leaders, Blue Springs president promoted

NEW YORK — Toyota Motor Corp. is naming new leaders at five of its factories in North America and replacing two Japanese executives with Americans, saying the moves will give more authority to local managers.

Steve St. Angelo, president of Toyota plants in Kentucky and Mississippi, was named chairman of both plants. Last week, Toyota announced it would restart construction of its nearly complete factory in Blue Springs in Northeast Mississippi. The plant will begin building Corolla compact cars starting next year.

At two plants, American executives will be replacing Japanese managers. Norm Bafunno was named president of the company’s vehicle assembly plant in Princeton, Ind., while Chris Nielsen is becoming president of an assembly plant in San Antonio, Texas. Both are veterans of Toyota’s U.S. manufacturing operations.

The company also promoted Ray Tanguay, president of an assembly plant on Ontario, becomes chairman of that plant.

Toyota spokesman Mike Goss said the company has been gradually moving American executives into leadership roles in the U.S. for years. Japanese executives have traditionally been in charge of new plants first, he said, then replaced with domestic executives.

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