The Noel family has been all over the place. As an employee for Toyota, Noel once lived in Japan with his wife for two and a half years. Now, he and his family are adjusting to a new culture once again as newcomers to Texas.
What work do you do for Toyota?
I am project manager responsible for Toyota’s new models launching in the next three years. Specifically, my team is responsible for the Tundra and Tacoma, both of which are built down the road in San Antonio. My team is responsible all the way from styling concept, design development engineering all the way through production trials and then start of production to the customer.
What was life like in Japan?
My wife and I moved to Japan in 2008 and were there for two and a half years. I went to Japan on assignment from Toyota to be the North American lead for Camry. Being in Japan allowed me to work closely with TMC (Toyota Motor Corporation) team members and to better understand the Toyota culture and way of business. During my assignment, I was amazed at how supportive and understanding my Japanese coworkers were to a tall young American that didn’t really understand Japanese or their culture. Over the two and a half years, those coworkers become some of my best friends and I still stay in touch with them regularly to this day.
My wife and I lived in Nagoya, in a city about the size of Chicago, and I traveled over one hour by train each way to work in Toyota city each day. (Yes, there is a city in Japan called “Toyota” city.)
Another aspect that we really enjoyed is traveling. Being in Asia, we didn’t realize how close other countries were to Japan. We knew that we would travel around a lot within Japan, which we did. But we didn’t realize all the other places and cultures we would be able to explore. We traveled all around Southeast Asia to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Guam and China. Beautiful places and culture. It really shaped our perspective on the benefits of trying understand and embrace other people’s cultures. That is something my wife and I are trying to do now in Texas. Texas culture is strong and we are working to embrace it. One of the first things we did was to go out and buy cowboy boots. And my wife and I really enjoy going to the Rodeo. We went twice to the Fort Worth Stock and Rodeo show in January and February.
Tell me more about your family. Do they enjoy living in Celina?
My beautiful wife’s name is Megan. We have two kids, 3-year-old daughter Rosie and a 1-year-old son Frankie. My wife is a registered nurse, but is choosing to stay at home for the next couple of years to focus on our family.
We really do enjoy living in Celina. We enjoy being a little more out in the country, but have quick access to DNT if we want to go downtown for an event.
We enjoyed the Cajun Festival and ate crawfish for the first time last year at the festival. We frequently went to the Friday Farmer’s market and I even took part in a potato sack race. Although I placed third, I still had a lot of fun.
My wife takes our kids to the Celina Library Mother Goose story time on Friday’s, which my daughter really enjoys.
We enjoy our neighborhood and how friendly everyone has been. We have made some really good friends with local Texans in our neighborhood and it really makes us feel at home, which is so important when you relocate.
Where is your favorite local spot to grab a bite to eat?
That’s a hard one to answer. Papa Gallo’s is our go-to for Tex Mex and we love their blue house margaritas. But on the weekends, we also really love to make a stop at Burger Fixins for some delicious greasy burgers.
What are some of your hobbies?
I love to camp and go hiking. I also brew my own beer. I have a large homebrew system in my garage and a beer dispenser in my garage. I have been brewing for over 13 years.
My neighbors keep telling me I am good at it, as I like to share my hobby with my neighbors.
If you could have coffee with a famous person, who would it be?
I am more of a tea person myself (I learned to love green tea during our years in Japan.)
To answer the question: I would say Steve Jobs. His ability to see into the future is uncanny. I would love to sit with him and have a coffee.
If you were to pick any other career, what would it be?
I would probably be a brewmaster or own my own brewery. There is a craft to creating good beer and I have dreamed about exploring the art.
Where is your dream vacation destination?
Yellowstone National Park. My wife and I visited many years ago and were in love with the natural beauty. We cannot wait to go back.
Greece was on our list, but we went a couple years ago. Now I guess Hawaii and Yellowstone Round 2 is next.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I have never had a Big Mac from McDonald’s. Not sure why I haven’t, but now that I have gone this long without one. I have to keep the streak alive.