Kevin Heintz

Kevin Heintz
Age: 37
Title: Managing director of the GM business unit for Johnson Controls Automotive Seating
Big break: In 2002, JCI hired him away from ExxonMobil to work on Toyota seat contracts.

Kevin Heintz is responsible for protecting some of the crown jewels of Johnson Controls' $16 billion seat business.

Heintz is managing director in charge of seats for the GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, Cadillac ATS and CTS, and also the Chevrolet Camaro.

That's a heavy responsibility, but Heintz, who grew up in suburban Detroit, had always dreamed of getting into the auto business.

"I've always been a car guy," he said. "When I was a kid, I always loved going to the car show with my dad. That was always the highlight."

His father worked in human resources at Johnson Controls, and the younger Heintz got a summer internship there while he attended the University of Texas.

After he earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1999, Heintz went to work at ExxonMobil's refinery in Baytown, Texas. It was a good job, but Heintz wanted to return to Michigan, where he and his wife had roots.

In 2002, Johnson Controls hired him to help produce seats for Toyota, and he participated in five product launches over the next five years.

"Toyota was a great customer to start with," Heintz said. That assignment "helped me to understand how parts are integrated into the vehicle."

In 2010, he got an MBA at the University of Michigan, a four-year quest that chewed up much of his free time.

He went to night school while managing the Chevrolet Malibu seat program by day, an assignment that required frequent trips to South Korea.

Heintz remarked: "I don't think I watched TV for five years."

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