Mazda Toyota Manufacturing not losing momentum for hiring during COVID-19

single-meta-cal May 22, 2020

Imagine needing to review and screen 40,000 resumes and make sure applicants have the skills to do complex automotive work to fill more than 4,000 jobs. To top that off, do this during a period of historic low unemployment and manage to keep the entire process running during a pandemic in time for a grand opening within 12 months. That’s what the Human Resources and Talent team at Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing (MTM) is doing.

Mark Brazeal, VP of Administration for MTM, and Jamie Hall, who oversees hiring of production employees for MTM, led a tour of the AIDT Physical Assessments Center and discussed how hiring is going despite COVID19.

In 2018, Huntsville competed for and won what was perhaps the “brass ring” of economic development that year: the $1.6 billion, 4,000 employee automotive plant for the newly formed joint venture of two global automotive heavyweights.

Brazeal says the company has hired 544 so far, including nearly 200 production staff members.

“Right now, we have enough applicants for the rest of the year,” said Brazeal. “In August, we will open job opportunities for production leaders, and later in the fall we will open again for production employees. We know that during this downturn in the economy we want to be able to provide opportunities for those who may have lost their job.”

Hiring the Toyota Way

Toyota is known for being a leader in efficiency. The Toyota Production System (TPS) has been adopted by companies in nearly every industry sector.

“We have just in time production; we need to have just in time human resources,” said Brazeal.

Hall, who is responsible for hiring the lion’s share of employees at MTM, described the strategy for the company. “We want to be the hometown employer,” he said.

Hall estimated the company will need to screen 40,000 applicants for the jobs it intends to fill. Interested candidates can complete an online application where they can discuss their experience and what their preferences are for work. Candidates proceed to take an online assessment to determine if they are a good fit for the position. Next comes a physical assessment with AIDT, the state’s lead agency for workforce development. If a candidate is successful, they will go through a background check and drug test, and assuming they pass these steps, they will be given a job offer.

What happens if a candidate falls short on the physical assessment? They can take a course at Calhoun Community College and then re-test.

“We had a maintenance tech applicant pass everything except for one area. He went through Calhoun and passed. We have a great partnership,” Brazeal said.

COVID-19 has certainly impacted the process. According to Hall, the assessment center has a capacity for 36 candidates a day, but safety precautions to accommodate frequent sanitization and social distancing have shaved that down to 12.

Community outreach also looks different. Brazeal said the company had plans to visit every high school in the area to help students learn about career options. Virtual job fairs have taken place of in-person visits.

“The second you step into the assessment facility, you can tell there is a priority on safety,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “Between hand sanitizer stations, face masks readily available and required, and clearly marked social spacing, I applaud MTM on doing its part to help limit the spread while still hiring.”

For employment opportunities with Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, visit