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16th of November 2018

Automotive



Adient names DelGrosso CEO, succeeding interim chief Fritz Henderson

DelGrosso, 56, becomes CEO and president of Adient on Oct 1 after a stint at Chassix, where he led a turnaround.

UPDATED: 9/13/18 3:23 pm ET - adds details, links

Seating supplier Adient named turnaround veteran Douglas DelGrosso as its next CEO, replacing former General Motors chief Frederick "Fritz" Henderson.

DelGrosso, 56, will take over as chief executive of the spun-off Johnson Controls Inc. unit on Oct. 1, the company said. He's currently president and CEO at Chassix, a Southfield, Mich., supplier.

Henderson had been serving in the top job at Adient on an interim basis since the forced retirement of Bruce McDonald in June. He will become nonexecutive chairman of Adient's board.

Chassix CFO Michael Beyer will serve as interim CEO during a search for DelGrosso's replacement.

Adient, based in Plymouth, Mich., has struggled to maintain consistent profitability since separating from Johnson Controls in October 2016.

It swung to a profit of $877 million last year after a $1.5 billion loss in 2016. But it has struggled financially again in fiscal year 2018, dragged down by its unprofitable seat structures and mechanisms division and $3.3 billion in debt.

Henderson will serve as nonexecutive chairman of Adient's board.

During its first three fiscal quarters this year, Adient said it posted a net loss of $330 million compared with net income of $533 million during the same period last year. Total revenue during the nine months grew 8.6 percent to $13.29 billion.

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The company hatched a restructuring plan this year that spurred management changes in the troubled seating division as well as reduced capital spending.

Turnaround specialist

DelGrosso has experience fixing sinking auto suppliers. He joined Chassix in 2016 to help the company emerge from bankruptcy and has since led a turnaround.

Chassix was born leveraged in April 2013, when Platinum Equity formed it by merging Wixom, Mich.,-based Diversified Machine Inc. and SMW Automotive Inc. of Troy, Mich. Platinum, controlled by Tom Gores, owner of the NBA's Detroit Pistons, had acquired Diversified Machine from The Carlyle Group in December 2011.

The debt proved insurmountable. Chassix filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2015 with $556.7 million in total debt and $34.3 million in assets after missing bond payments.  It was reorganized and emerged from bankruptcy in July 2015.

Since the bankruptcy, DelGrosso led a $50 million expansion in Europe and a roughly $30 million acquisition of Austrian conglomerate Benteler International AG's automotive casting business. Terms of that deal were not disclosed but an outside valuation expert estimated the value of the deal for Crain's Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News.

"He brings the right vision, leadership experience and operational expertise needed to drive Adient's transformation forward," John Barth, interim chairman of the Adient board, said in a news release.

Before joining Chassix, DelGrosso served as president and CEO of Henniges Automotive Inc. in Auburn Hill, Mich. He also has served in executive roles the former TRW Automotive) and Lear Corp., where he departed as president at age 45 in August 2007. 

DelGrosso earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Lawrence Technological University and an MBA from Michigan State University.

Adient ranks No. 11 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide sales to automakers of $16.2 billion in 2017.

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