Much of what DelGrosso is implementing is just that — allowing questionable operations to expire. Many of the company's problems can be attributed to lusting after acquisitions and diversification, he said.
"A lot of that activity moved us away from the formula of Adient," DelGrosso said. Former executives wanted to expand into new products — for example, through an aerospace joint venture with Boeing.
"That diluted a lot of resources, took us away from our core business," he said. "We diluted ourselves to a point where we weren't executing on launches and were not commercially focused."
On Oct. 18, Adient reduced its stake in the joint venture with Boeing from 50.01 percent to just 19.9 percent.
DelGrosso also inherited a company burdened with debt — another focus of his turnaround effort. Adient took on $3.5 billion in debt at its birth to fund a $3 billion dividend payout to JCI, leaving the new supplier with a debt load roughly twice its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.
Adient recognized the move as a risk from the get-go, reporting in a regulatory filing at launch that significant leverage put the company at a competitive disadvantage and could limit its ability to perform. Adient also faced $1.5 billion in impairment charges related to the spinoff.
As part of its market-share growth strategy when it was still operating as JCI, the company acquired two German seating suppliers — Keiper, and its specialty seat business Recaro, as well as C. Rob. Hammerstein Group. Digesting those acquisitions became a problem for its seat structures and metals and mechanisms division. The company spent years integrating the two acquisitions while bleeding cash.
As a result, Adient closed out its first full year of existence in 2016 with a $1.5 billion loss. JCI separated financial reporting of Adient ahead of its October 2016 spinoff.
DelGrosso climbed out of a heavy debt scenario in his mission at Chassix. That company had been fused together by investment interests in 2013. But the resulting debt proved insurmountable, and 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 reorganized and emerged in July of that year.
DelGrosso arrived at Chassix at the end of 2015 and led the company on a $50 million expansion in Europe and a $30 million acquisition of the automotive casting business of Austrian conglomerate Benteler International.
Now at Adient, DelGrosso is again attempting to get above the debt. In May, Adient secured a deal to refinance its debt to the tune of $750 million, pushing its debt maturing out until 2024.
Wall Street has viewed both DelGrosso and his first year of steps positively, and the company's stock is up more than 23 percent so far this year.
In an analyst note last month, David Whiston, autos stock analyst for Morningstar Inc., commented that Adient is making progress.
"With what we see as the right team in place to fix Adient's woes, more time to reduce debt and option value from nonautomotive markets — such as business-class airplane seats and perhaps higher-dollar automotive seating content from autonomous vehicles — we think Adient is a compelling opportunity for investors willing to ride out the volatility of a turnaround story," Whitson said. "The stock isn't for everyone, though, because the turnaround is likely to take a long time."