American Worker Stories

BARBARA MURPHY

ENGINE MACHINING, HYUNDAI


“Before joining Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama in 2005, I was working as a waitress at a Waffle House in Montgomery, Alabama. Today, I oversee the machining processes for steel crankshafts in Hyundai engines. I take great pride in producing engine parts with no flaws because my parts are a critical component of our engines in Santa Fe Sport SUVs and Sonata and Elantra sedan.”

DANIEL JACKSON

PRESIDENT AND CEO, CARROLL COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE


“The automotive industry is vitally important to our community in Carroll County. The industry draws top talent to our region, and the strong leadership qualities found in the sector translate into countless philanthropic initiatives, employee involvement, and strong community leadership that are integral to our region’s success. The sector also tends to pay well, and provides excellent benefits that help our citizens thrive.”

CJ BARNETT

VICE PRESIDENT OF ONION CREEK VOLKSWAGEN, AUSTIN, TX


"My father started this business in 1989, at a time when he was one of very few African American new car dealers. Today, we employ 160 people in stable, well-paid careers. Once you’re working with us, we make sure you have opportunities to further your career. We are also blessed to give back to our community through a number of charitable groups, including the Boys and Girls clubs in all three cities where we operate. Family-owned dealerships like ours are a fundamental part of their communities and often one of the biggest employers in town. In Texas, where we’re located, our customers care deeply about buying products that are made in America. I’m proud to tell them the Passat or Atlas they’re eyeing is built in Chattanooga, Tennessee."

MATTHEW VALBUENA

ENGINEER, MAZDA


As a young boy, Matthew acted as an interpreter to his deaf parents. He and his father bonded over listening to music in the car, his father hearing the music in his chest with every beat of the kick drum. Now, Matthew works as an engineer at Mazda helping with the “visual noise” as well as actual noise. The boy who had to learn how to enjoy music on his own terms is teaching others how to rediscover sound quality in an era of streaming at 128 kbps. “My childhood hobbies turned into my career path and led me to where I am today at Mazda,” he said. “I couldn’t have planned it any better than that.”

JENNIFER ADAIR

QUALITY AUDIT TEAM LEADER, TOYOTA


“Great pay and benefits are the things that bring you in the door at Toyota, but what keeps you working here is feeling like we are part of a bigger vision and plan. At Toyota, we make incredible vehicles, and team members understand that their daily contributions have made that possible. I stay because the work I do is both rewarded and recognized. The Toyota culture challenges you to come in every day and strive to do better.”

MARK SCARPELLI

RAYMOND CHEVROLET OF ANTIOCH, ILLINOIS


“As a dealer I have to meet payroll every month, and I cannot do that if sales fall dramatically. The last thing I want to do is layoff a valued employee. Many of my employees have been with our dealership for years. They are like family. But I might have to let some people go if a massive tariff hits my inventory of parts and new cars. If prices go up because of a tariff my customers will not buy as many cars. It’s that simple.”

MIKE DARROW

PRESIDENT AND COO, RUSS DARROW GROUP


"My family operates 17 dealership locations across Wisconsin and has been named one of the top workplaces in the state. The auto retail industry is thriving in this country, and so are we, thanks to our long-time, loyal employees. We are a family business, so we try to treat our employees like family. For us that means constantly improving our health insurance options and our retirement plans, while promoting wellness programs and family-friendly work schedules. Our success as a business over the past 53 years is funneled directly into our community and our employees. My last name is on all the signs, so I wouldn’t have it any other way."

LAURI COX

EMPLOYEE AT JIM HUDSON LEXUS


"Starting in the early 90s in the male-dominated automotive industry was a challenge. I worked hard, long hours to overachieve because I was given a chance to be the very best I could be, and I wanted to live up to it. Now, 25 years later, I am part of a team who is achieving greatness not only in the success of the dealership, but also donating the land to build a woman & children’s shelter right here in Columbia. I never thought my original journey would have resulted in such a win/win, both personally and professionally."

MICHAEL A. HAUGHEY

PRESIDENT & CEO, NORTH AMERICAN STAMPING GROUP


“The NASG team applauds the administration for the progress being made on NAFTA and trying to achieve a level playing field for global trade. We’re also appreciative for the tax decrease and reduced business regulations. Unfortunately, the threat and implementation of section 232 tariffs have increased steel cost that have exceeded our savings in both taxes and reduced regulations. The volatility of the auto industry is driven by: steel price increases, trade wars, CO2 pending regulations, café pending regulations and skilled labor shortages. These elements coupled with rising wages have the unwelcome effect of driving uncertainty in the industry and consumer confidence. This will inevitability lead to volume decreases. If the situation remains unchanged lower volumes with higher costs will have a devastating effect on our industry”

TANIA PRATNICKI YOUNG

PLANT MANAGER, FCA


Tania knows a thing or two about world-class operations. As Plant Manager of the FCA US Dundee Engine Plant, she has led the plant to becoming the first U.S. facility, and only North American engine plant, to achieve silver status in World Class Manufacturing – an FCA methodology that focuses on eliminating waste, increasing productivity, and improving quality and safety. And she won’t stop until she gets the gold! “I love my plant. I love my job. I love my people. It’s a rewarding life. You’re making something. You see the results every day.”

DWAYNE MYERS

DYNAMIC AUTOMOTIVE, MANAGING PARTNER


"A 25 percent tariff on imported auto parts will have a ripple effect down the industry's global supply chain. Not only are thousands of jobs at risk, it is essentially a massive tax on U.S. consumers. Higher parts prices will lead to underperformed maintenance and to drivers delaying repairs, which puts the safety of pedestrians, passengers and other vehicles on the road at risk. Furthermore, there are so many different makes and models of vehicles on the roads today that I am simply not able to source many of the parts needed for repairs from only domestic producers."

SETH WILLIAMS

TEAM LEADER, TOYOTA


“Toyota Indiana gave me a chance. I did not graduate from college and I truly believe that working for a company like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The ability to move up in the organization that I’ve been part of over the last 15 years is astounding. I don’t know of any other company that would have afforded me the chance to achieve what Toyota has helped me achieve. The company has been such a positive influence in my life, and my daily goal is to help other team members exceed their expectations every day. Working together as a team we build ever better vehicles.”