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Partnership Between Toyota, Rebuild Joplin Unique

Rebuild Joplin, a non-profit organization started after the May 2011 tornado, and Toyota joined forces in April to rebuild homes more efficiently. Now, that unique partnership is seeing the fruits of its labor. KSMU’s Melanie Foehrweiser has more.

Rebuild Joplin was started as a way to link people in the Joplin community, who were in need after the tornado, to others who could help them. But after a few months, the group saw that something more needed to be done. Jerrod Hogan is the director of Rebuild Joplin.

“We realized there was a large need in this community for the residential recovery. Folks needed help building and repairing their homes. So we partnered with a group in New Orleans called the St. Bernard Project who over the last six years have been rebuilding homes with donations and volunteers in the New Orleans area and they have rebuilt over 450 homes.”

Rebuild Joplin and the St. Bernard Project began working together in January, and it was through this partnership that talks with Toyota began. Toyota sent crews to Joplin in April and has since helped rebuilding efforts become more efficient by implementing the Toyota Production System, or TPS. Visualization is one of the tools in the TPS.

“Part of the goal of visualizing is so that you can see your problems, see your challenges. One example is that we have…we track every single day on every single project and when something gets behind we’re able to see that and we’re able to jump on that challenge that we otherwise wouldn’t see and make sure we close it,” says Hogan.

Toyota staff members also use visualization and precise instructions to keep volunteers on track. Hogan says it’s vital for volunteers to know the importance of meeting project deadlines.

“We’ve told our clients when they’re going to get to move back home and if we don’t get done every single day the task that’s in front of us then that means that client will be delayed. Toyota helps us communicate…helps us put up visual goals at the sites for each volunteer group for each day and helps us let the volunteers know if we’re ahead or behind on that project so that they can do their part to help us get that family home on time.”

Before Toyota implemented the TPS, it took Rebuild Joplin an average of 62 days to complete a house. Since the partnership began in April, that number has been reduced to 41 days.

Hogan says the group’s current goal is to get as many families in homes for the holidays as possible. Since March, Rebuild Joplin has completed 27 houses, and it's currently working on 20 more.

Rebuild Joplin still needs volunteers. For information on how to volunteer, visit www.rebuildjoplin.org.

During a press conference Tuesday, Toyota announced it will also donate $100,000 to Rebuild Joplin’s efforts.

For KSMU News, I’m Melanie Foehrweiser.