Story from Crain’s Detroit Business and written by Chad Livengood. Click here for Crains article. Photo by Morgan Anderson/Adient.
Interior demolition work for Adient Ltd.’s future downtown Detroit headquarters has begun, with the nation’s largest automotive seat supplier planning an open work space inside the historic Marquette Building that will leave no room for individual offices. Even Adient’s CEO, Bruce McDonald, and other company executives won’t have an enclosed office, said Glen L. Ponczak, vice president of communication and investor relations for Adient.
“It makes it easier to collaborate … and that’s a change,” Ponczak said in an interview with Crain’s at last week’s Mackinac Policy Conference. “It really aligns with the corporate culture we’re trying to drive.”
Adient (NYSE: ADNT) is pegging its $50 million renovation of the 111-year-old Marquette Building at 243 W. Congress St. for completion by mid-2019, Ponczak said.
The automotive seat supplier, which spun off from Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc., plans to locate 500 employees in 164,000-square-foot, 10-story historic building, across Congress Street from Cobo Center. About 100 of the employees will be new hires and the remaining employees will come from Adient’s current headquarters on Halyard Drive in Plymouth Township, which is being converted to a technical testing and engineering facility, Ponczak said.
“One of the critiques of our Plymouth facility is that it’s compartmentalized and nowadays (the trend is) much more toward open spaces,” he said.
The Michigan Strategic Fund, the state’s economic development arm, awarded Adient a $2 million performance-based grant for creation of the new jobs. Johnson Controls shed Adient in its reorganization last year so the automotive division could focus solely on building a $17 billion seating business for the auto and aviation industries.
Adient sees the advent of autonomous vehicles and the different use of vehicle interiors as its future areas of business, Ponczak said. “That’s becoming more and more what our company is … a lot of it tied to mobility and changing the way you use interiors,” he said.
Moving from a suburban office park to a revitalized downtown Detroit, Ponczak said, is “really going to change the dynamic of the company.”
Adient produces about one-third of all automotive seats globally at 230 locations in 33 countries. The company has no plans to expand seat-manufacturing in Southeast Michigan, Ponczak said, in part because Adient builds its seats near its customers’ assembly plants.
“If they’re making cars in Shanghai, we’re putting a plant in Shanghai,” Ponczak told Crain’s. “So it’s not like we can move a whole lot of production into the state. It’s really dictated where the customer locations are.”
Adient’s just-in-time manufacturing business model centers around building and delivering car seats to automakers within eight hours.
“So you can’t be too far from where the production is happening,” Ponczak said. “It dictates, to a great extent, where we’re located.”