Toyota Material Handling’s Former President and CEO Honored with Prestigious Industry Award

Jeff Rufener Receives Meritorious Service Award from Industrial Truck Association

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

COLUMBUS, Ind. (November 27, 2023) – Toyota Material Handling, an industry leader in innovative material handling solutions, congratulates Jeff Rufener, the company’s former president and CEO, on being honored with the 2023 Meritorious Service Award by the Industrial Truck Association (ITA). The 72-year-old association for industrial truck manufacturers in North America has recognized leaders dedicated to serving the organization and advancing the material handling industry with this prominent award since 1992.
“Jeff was an integral part of the material handling industry for over four decades serving in various leadership roles,” said Brett Wood, Toyota Material Handling North America President & CEO. “Not only did he lead Toyota through transformational changes, but with his humble and inspirational leadership, Jeff motivated others to embrace challenges and improve each day. He was always passionate about Toyota’s culture of Kaizen – to continuously improve – and the core purpose of ‘Helping People Carry the Load’.”
Rufener contributed to the ITA for more than 20 years, serving as ITA Chairman from 2009-2011, as well as serving on the Executive Committee and as a Board member. He helped found the inaugural National Forklift Safety Day and acted as the first-ever chairman of the task force, laying the foundation for safer operational practices for years to come. Rufener advocated for increased safety in the material handling industry through operator training, educational programs and product and process efficiency improvements.
He also recognized the necessity of sustainability and energy efficiency within the industry. Under his direction, Toyota launched more than 20 electric forklift models, strengthening the organization’s position as an industry leader.
“I am humbled to receive such a special award from an organization I love so much in the ITA,” Rufener said. “The ITA is so impactful because of its culture, its people and a noble core purpose – the same three tenants that make Toyota great. I’m proud to have been part of both groups and will never forget what we accomplished together.”
Rufener emphasized corporate social responsibility as a hallmark of the Toyota brand. One of Rufener’s philanthropic initiatives included the development of Toyota’s partnership with the American Red Cross. Serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Red Cross’ Southeast Indiana chapter, Rufener established a multifaceted initiative of corporate, dealer and associate support. His leadership led to countless donations from Toyota dealerships throughout the country of rental equipment, time, expertise, money and regular blood drives, as a testament to the relationship of the organizations. 
During his tenure at Toyota which began in 2011, Rufener oversaw the company’s headquarters transition from California to Indiana. Then in 2020, he led the integration of Toyota’s two Columbus-based companies, Toyota Material Handling, USA (TMHU) and Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing (TIEM), creating a single company. Since his retirement in 2021, Bill Finerty, Rufener’s successor, has carried the charge of continuing Toyota’s role as the leader within the material handling industry. 
Learn more about the leaders serving on Toyota Material Handling’s management team at
About Toyota Material Handling 
Toyota Material Handling offers material handling products and solutions, including forklifts, reach trucks, order pickers, pallet jacks, container handlers, automated guided vehicles, and tow tractors, along with aerial work platforms, fleet management services, and advanced automation engineering and design. Toyota’s commitment to quality, reliability and customer satisfaction, the hallmark of the Toyota Production System, extends throughout more than 230 locations across North America. With access to an industry-leading lineup of material handling products, Toyota dealers are uniquely positioned to help solve wide-ranging challenges in all customer environments and market segments. Built for every application, Toyota can provide the most complete set of solutions for material handling, automation, energy, advanced logistics, and warehouse optimization. For more information or to learn more, visit
Toyota Material Handling

Bill Finerty, President & CEO

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