Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc. announced that Carlos (Shozo) Kibata died Saturday following a brief illness. The 64-year-old had more than 41 years experience with the Toyo Tires organization, was the chairman of Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc. and until recently an executive corporate officer of Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. in Japan.
Kibata oversaw the opening of the company's tire manufacturing facility in White in 2005 -- its first wholly owned tire plant outside of Japan. Bartow County was chosen for the site in 2004 as the company sought an American plant to better compete in the U.S. market.
"Mr. Kibata was one of the main leaders in getting Toyo Tire to come to Bartow County, and has been so good to this community," said Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown, one of several local leaders who offered their comments on Kibata's passing in a news release Tuesday.
"I believe that there are 500 jobs in Bartow County that probably would not be here if it were not for him," former Cartersville Mayor Mike Fields said in the release. "He was instrumental in locating and growing Toyo's presence in Bartow County and North America. He was a genuinely good person."
Toyo's impact to Bartow County and the state was recognized last year when Toyo Tire North America Manufacturing Inc. was named Large Manufacturer of the Year during the Georgia Manufacturing Appreciation Week's Governor's Award Luncheon. The Manufacturer of the Year awards are given to companies that exhibit corporate responsibility, economic impact on the state and workforce excellence.
"Mr. Kibata will be remembered as an ambassador who gave so much respect to this community," said Melinda Lemmon, executive director of the Cartersville-Bartow Department of Economic Development. "He received respect in return tenfold from anyone who knew him. It was my privilege to learn from his humble, yet dynamic leadership style."
"It was his vision and leadership that played a part in Toyo coming to our community," added Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini. "That decision lead to a great community partner in Toyo, in millions being invested in our economy, and in hundreds of jobs being created. Our community was saddened to hear of his passing, but the impact of his leadership will remain in our community for many years to come."
Kibata joined Toyo Tires in 1969, and following positions of increasing responsibility in Japan, Kibata assumed his first U.S. assignment with the Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. sales department from 1978 to 1986. After returning to Tokyo, he became general manager of the International Overseas Division from 1993 to 1996. He then returned to North America as president of Toyo Tire Canada Inc. from 1996 to 1999.
Kibata took the helm of Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. in 1999 as president. In 2008, Kibata established Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas and was its first president. Kibata was also active outside of his official corporate roles, having previously served as president of the Japan Business Association of Southern California.
Company officials lauded Kibata for growing the Toyo brand market share during his tenure through the introduction of leading-edge products, the strengthening of customer relationships and creation of a U.S. manufacturing base.