Gulf States Toyota Distributors

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Gulf States Toyota, Inc.
Industry Automotive Distribution and Parts Distribution
Founded 1969
Headquarters Houston, Texas, USA
Key people
Dan Friedkin, Chairman & CEO Ed Dickinson, CFO
Products Cars, Trucks, Parts, Marketing, Training
Revenue $8.4 billion (2015) [1]
Number of employees
2,000 (2015) [2]

Gulf States Toyota Distributors (GST) is the world’s second (out of 3) largest franchised distributor of Toyota vehicles. The 154 dealers in the five states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas account for 13% of Toyota sales in the United States. Per Forbes, GST is a wholly owned subsidiary the holding company, the Friedkin Companies[3] and ranked 53rd on the Forbes 2008 list of America's Largest Private Companies.[4]

Its headquarters are in the Energy Corridor area of Houston.[5][6]


Carroll Shelby, famous racecar driver was approached by Toyota in 1968 about becoming an automobile distributor. According to Shelby,

"I turned it down because I went to Lee Iacocca, and he told me not to take it because the domestic makers were going to push the Japanese back into the ocean."[7]

Shelby told his racing buddy, Tom Friedkin, about Toyota's intentions to sell distributor licenses. Friedkin flew to Japan and convinced Toyota that he had the necessary knowledge and resources.

Gulf States Toyota brought the first Toyota vehicle to Houston, Texas in 1969, when all Toyota vehicles were manufactured in Japan and imported into the US. Three years later, the company employed 35 associates and had sold 5,000 cars and trucks through 14 dealerships. GST also completed construction of a processing center on a 33-acre (130,000 m2) site at the Port of Houston.

In 1979, GST won the Import Vehicle Triple Crown by being first in import car, truck and combined import sales in the United States with 65,826 vehicles sold.

The NUMMI plant, a joint venture with General Motors, opened at Fremont, California in 1984 and was Toyota's first assembly plant in the US.

Gulf States Toyota completed construction and opened its Parts Distribution Center (PDC) near Sealy, Texas in 1986. Today, the PDC provides dedicated parts delivery to over 150 dealers, shipping nearly 100% of all orders every day.

By 1994, GST had exceeded 100,000 in total vehicle sales and outgrown its processing center at the port. GST opened its 80-acre (320,000 m2) Vehicle Processing Center on Houston's Northside, built to handle 150,000 vehicles a year. The facility is served by rail and transport trucks and employs over 600 associates.

With vehicle sales steadily increasing, GST outsold Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (Torrance, CA) in import car market share in 1998. With record sales in 2000, GST processed 11% of all Toyotas sold in the United States.

In 2003, GST helped name Houston's premier sports and entertainment venue—the Toyota Center. Toyota broke ground on its 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) truck plant in nearby San Antonio, Texas. The plant, which produces the full-size Tundra pickup, represents a $1.58 billion investment in the community. At year's end, GST exceeded 149,000 total vehicles sold.

In 2005, Gulf States Toyota was named the #1 privately held company in Houston by the Houston Chronicle's Chronicle 100 list. GST was also listed at #40 on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Companies. By the end of the year, more than 185,000 vehicles were sold through 145 dealerships.

Production began at San Antonio's Texas truck plant in 2006. That same year, GST's Vehicle Processing Center expanded to 150 acres (0.61 km2) and GST had sold 226,960 vehicles at year-end.

In 2012 the company generated $6.9 billion in revenue. In 2013 the Houston Chronicle ranked GST as #1 in its list of Houston area private companies.[8] In 2013, GST announced a lay off at its Vehicle Processing Center due to a change in business focus.

Recent History[edit]

Toyota (not GST) has opened 7 manufacturing facilities in the US and in 2008, more than 60% of Toyotas sold in the US are made in the US. Today, the majority of vehicles distributed by GST are not unloaded from ships. GST entered an agreement with the City of Temple to construct another vehicle processing center promising jobs and economic benefits served by rail road. The City invested millions in improvements only to have GST pull out of the deal after several years in 2015. Gulf States Toyota Distributors is one of just two private distributors of Toyota vehicles in the United States. The other is Southeast Toyota Distributors LLC in Jacksonville, Florida, founded by the late Jim Moran.[9]

In 2009, GST celebrated their 40th year in business.

In 2012, Ford sued the now currient President of GST for allegedly violating his non-compete and confidentiality provisions, to which GST stated it would hire Mr. Collins "no matter how long it takes."

In 2013, the Pizza Hut Park was renamed the Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX, which is home to the MLS team FC Dallas due to GST's sponsorship. GST also named Toyota Field in San Antonio, home of minor league soccer team the Scorpions in 2013.


GST's new corporate headquarters is located in the Energy Corridor in west Houston with a 400,000-square-foot (37,000 m2) campus consisting of a connected five story and ten story building and an eight floor parking garage. The complex also includes a 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) training center, in addition to Gulf States Marketing and Gulf States Financial Services offices.

To prepare for another Hurricane Katrina event and to provide additional vehicle processing capacity, the company planned the construction of a $50 million Inland Processing facility in Temple, Texas, which should break ground in 2009 in Rail Park at Central Pointe. It will serve as a centralized location for receiving, accessorizing and distributing Toyota and Scion vehicles that arrive from Toyota’s North American manufacturing centers by train, as well as transport trucks from the nearby San Antonio truck plant. The facility opened in 2011.[7]


The Friedkin Companies, an affiliate of GST, contributed $2 million in 2005 to establish the Friedkin Disaster Relief Fund to help provide relief to Hurricane Katrina victims who worked for Toyota and other dealerships.[10]


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