Randal Murphy, 62, has retired as vice president for special projects at Lear Corp.
Murphy's engineering design work on auto seats broke new ground, and his Lear experience since 1965 saw the company move from a lone part-maker named American Metal Products to an integrated interior systems supplier. He was honored last year with a Lifetime Achievement Award for pursuit of innovation and excellence from Automotive & Transportation Interiors magazine.
'Randy was a tremendous asset to our company. He was respectfully referred to as 'Mr. Seat' by everyone in the industry because of his expertise in seating design and engineering,' said Ken Way, Lear CEO.
Murphy holds 12 patents for auto seating advances, including seat back recliners, lumbar support, adjustable individual thigh support and adjustable bolsters. His work contributed to seating innovations for such cars as the Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro and Ford Thunderbird.
Murphy was one of about 30 engineering executives who salvaged Lear after a 1987 leveraged buyout by Forstman Little & Co. They bought the former Lear Siegler Seating Corp. for $500 million in 1988. Lear, of Southfield, Mich., is now publicly held. It had $4.7 billion in sales last year and is ranked by Automotive News as the third-largest supplier of original equipment to North America.
'We took our life savings, and then borrowed some more on top of that,' Murphy said in a 1996 interview. 'But I guess I looked on it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.'