“We think (active safety) is the future,” O’Neal said in a Feb

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BLOOMBERG Rodney O'Neal: "I loved being on the factory floor. … You knew what had to be done that day, and you either did it or you didn't. Instant feedback." Data on DelphiWhen Rodney O’Neal became COO in 2005, Delphi was a $27 billion company with a vast line of products, high labor costs and a dependence on General Motors contracts. Here’s a timeline of Delphi’s transformation to a leaner company: 1994: General Motors consolidates in-house parts operations as the Automotive Components Group, later renamed Delphi.1999: GM spins off Delphi as an independent company with 200 www.dizionariorosi.it ,000 workers and $29 billion in annual sales.2005: Delphi admits it had improperly reported rebates from suppliers. In January, O’Neal is named COO. In February, CEO J.T. Battenberg III says he will retire. In June, Steve Miller is named CEO. On Oct. 8, Delphi files for bankruptcy.2006: Company says it will sell or close 21 U.S. plants. Delphi sells or shuts 45 plants worldwide from 2005 through 2013.2007: O’Neal is named CEO.2009: Delphi emerges from bankruptcy on Oct. 6.2011: In the first quarter, Delphi repurchases GM’s $3.8 billion stake. In November, Delphi launches an initial public offering, raises $530 million.2012: In May, Delphi announces it will buy FCI Group’s motorized vehicles division, a maker of electrical connectors, for nearly $1 billion.2015: In February, Delphi announces it will sell its thermal division to Mahle for $727 million. In March, O’Neal retires; Kevin Clark, a former private equity investor, is named CEO.When Delphi Automotive took journalists for rides in its driverless Audi SQ45 this winter during the International CES, the retrofitted crossover wasn’t restricted to the highway.The vehicle ventured onto Las Vegas streets for encounters with taxis, buses best replica hermes , limos and pedestrians. It handled them all nicely. Other major suppliers have rolled out driverless prototypes to showcase active safety technology. But Delphi is getting contracts. And it’s a good example of CEO Rodney O’Neal’s core business strategy in his eight years at the helm: Shed slow-growth businesses and invest in promising high-margin technologies. “We think (active safety) is the future,” O’Neal said in a Feb. 27 interview. “I put my money where my mouth was, and we backed it up with investments.”Radical surgeryThat strategy had its risks. O’Neal, who retired on March 1, had to perform radical surgery to eliminate Troy-based Delphi’s underperforming divisions. During his stints as COO and CEO, Delphi shut or sold 45 plants. Last year, sales totaled $17.02 billion, compared with $26.95 billion in 2005. For years, O’Neal has been placing his bets on promising technology. Just after Delphi emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, for example, O’Neal sold Delphi’s airbag and seatbelt operation but kept radar. Today, radar is the centerpiece of Delphi’s active safety portfolio, which is growing rapidly. Delphi has become solidly profitable since bankruptcy. Net income totaled $1.35 billion last year, and Delphi’s stock is trading at almost $80 per share — nearly four times its price in November 2011, when the company went public. Now Delphi has just three divisions: wire harnesses and connectors, powertrain components, and electronics and safety. The list of more traditional products that O’Neal has shed is long. The most recent example was a long-term bread-and-butter product line at Delphi, the operations that produced heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, products. Last year, that unit generated sales of $1.56 billion — 9 percent of Delphi’s revenues. Other product lines that Delphi has sold or closed since 2005 include cockpits, steering systems, chassis components, door panels, brakes, airbags, seatbelts, instrument panels, spark plugs and compressors.GM liferLeaner and meanerOver the past decade, Delphi has become smaller, profitable and far less reliant on General Motors. Net sales2005: $26.95 billion2014: $17.02 billion Net profit (loss)2005: ($2.36 billion)2014: $1.35 billionEmployees2005: 185,2002014: 127,000 R&D2005: $2.2 billion2014: $1.3 billion Plants, R&D centers2005: 3032014: 144GM share of sales2005: 48%2014: 17%Source: DelphiThere was nothing flashy about O’Neal’s steady march to transform Delphi into a smaller but better supplier. O’Neal is a GM lifer, but his involvement in the auto industry was almost an afterthought. As a high school student in Dayton, Ohio, he wanted to study computer science, but his school counselor advised him to enter General Motors Institute, now called Kettering University.After he graduated, he joined GM in 1976 as a production engineer in a steering wheel factory. “I loved being on the factory floor,” O’Neal said. “It was vibrantly alive. Every day was different. You knew what had to be done that day, and you either did it or you didn’t. Instant feedback.” He worked his way up through GM’s in-house parts operation, and stayed with Delphi when it was spun off in 1999. By the time he was named Delphi’s COO in 2005, O’Neal had an insider’s knowledge of the company’s products, factories and technology. When Delphi went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005, O’Neal used that knowledge to figure out which products to keep and which to shed. As its portfolio shrank, the company closed dozens of plants and eliminated thousands of jobs. In 2007, the UAW accepted wages as low as $14 an hour, down from $27. But most jobs disappeared anyway. Today, Delphi has five plants and 5,000 employees in the U.S.Meanwhile, 94 percent of Delphi’s hourly workforce is in so-called low-cost countries such as Mexico, China and Poland. The company’s remaining product lines have strong growth prospects, O’Neal said. Delphi’s biggest division is electrical components, an $8.27 billion operation that includes traditional products such as wire harnesses, connectors and other components of a vehicle’s nervous system. But the company’s fastest growing product line is active safety — the array of radar, cameras, control units and software that make up collision avoidance systems. That portfolio generated $160 million in revenue last year, and annual sales are expected to grow 50 percent this year. In Europe, automakers need collision avoidance technology because it’s required for a five-star crash rating, notes Scott Pagington, Delphi’s global product manager for electronics and safety. In November, Delphi signed a deal with Ottomatika Inc., a Pittsburgh startup that develops software for automated driving. That collaboration bore fruit in January when Delphi unveiled its driverless vehicle.Software will be a key differentiator for other smart technologies such as fuel injectors, which require sophisticated control units to produce low emissions. In the auto industry, hardware is a commodity with declining prices. Software is where the profits are. “We began the conversion to smart products over a decade ago,” O’Neal recalled. “We wanted to sell sophisticated black boxes — ‘thinking’ products. We’ve done a great job adding intelligence to our products.” Automotive News is a sister publication to Crain’s Detroit Business Related LinksDelphi moves forward with focus on smart technology, softwareDelphi to buy cabling firm HellermannTyton for $1.7 billion, tops profit forecastDelphi to buy U.K. cabling firm HellermannTyton for $1.7 billion, tops earnings forecast

O’Neal’s goal: Smaller but stronger Delphi

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