Jay Hardy of Hardy Diagnostics tests out an Adient Aerospace seat.
Jay Hardy of Hardy Diagnostics tests out an Adient Aerospace seat for aircraft while talking to Tony Guy, Adient's chief executive officer. Adient plans to open a Santa Maria manufacturing location. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A company that makes top-quality seats for airplanes intends to open a manufacturing plant in Santa Maria thanks to a leader who had worked for a similar company in the city for three decades.

Tony Guy, chief executive officer of Adient Aerospace, announced the firm’s expansion to Santa Maria on Wednesday.

“I’m just really, really happy to be part of the Santa Maria Valley community,” said Guy, who has been involved in the manufacturing of aircraft interiors for three decades with a different company.

Adient Aerospace leases a small portion of the building at 2850 Skyway Drive, but it expects to move into the rest of the 82,000-square-foot facility once its current tenant moves out later this year.

“The potential is a couple hundred full-time, high-quality jobs,” said Glenn Morris, chief executive officer and president of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.

With Guy’s familiarity with the Santa Maria Valley, he knew the community would welcome the business and that it boasts an existing talent pool, Morris said. Additionally, Allan Hancock College can help train manufacturing technicians while UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly produce engineers who could fill jobs.

“That combination of a community that values and appreciates manufacturing businesses and the ability to hire quickly and know that there’s a pipeline behind it for talent is what really worked,” Morris said. “And I think that’s a combination we can offer to others. That’s Santa Maria’s recipe.”

The company’s website, adient-aerospace.com, currently lists 10 job openings for Santa Maria, a number expected to grow in the coming months.

“We can’t say how many, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised,” Guy said.

Departments with current openings include engineering, human resources, information technology, manufacturing and operation, quality control and supply chain, according to website.

Salaries for the jobs listed range from $45,000 at the low end to more than $100,000 for engineers with the job of general manager paying between $190,000 and $220,000. The benefits package for positions includes three weeks of paid time off, 12 paid holidays, health insurance, a 401(k) match and the potential for bonuses.

When a fellow Santa Maria businessman, Jay Hardy, tested out a model of the Adient Aerospace product sitting at the Santa Maria office, Guy offered a friendly warning.

“You’ll never fly economy again,” Guy told Hardy.

For the most part, Guy remained mum about where to find the firm’s products, beyond saying they are in airplanes’ business class section.

“What I can tell you is you can fly on our product if you fly Qatar (Airways),” Guy said, adding that Hawaiian Airlines has announced it will use the product.

Guy said he expects to release more details about the Santa Maria expansion plans later this year.

A UC Santa Barbara graduate with a mechanical engineering degree, Guy went to work for a company in Los Angeles “but wanted to be back here so bad,” he said.

In 1992, he accepted a job with C&D Aerospace, beginning a 30-year career there.

He remained with the firm and rose through the ranks as the company became C&D Zodiac, Zodiac Aerospace and Safran with operations filling two buildings, one on Airpark Drive and the second on Skyway Drive.

While Adient Aerospace will take over the Skyway Drive building used by Safran, that company reportedly will continue its airplane interiors manufacturing activity at the Airpark Drive facility.

Adient Aerospace CEO Tony Guy and Jerry Schmidt of Pacifica Commercial Realty.
Adient Aerospace CEO Tony Guy, left, talks to Jerry Schmidt of Pacifica Commercial Realty after the announcement of Guy’s return to Santa Maria. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Guy left Safran in January 2022 during a company restructuring and worked with a former colleague in a different aspect. A call from a friend, the CEO of Adient Aerospace, proved fortuitous.

“He told me, ‘We never thought you’d leave so we didn’t offer you a job,'” Guy said. “I asked him what job are you offering me and he goes, ‘I’m offering you my job.’”

After being hired to be CEO, Guy has been working at the company headquarters in Huntington Beach.

His long ties to the Central Coast made him want to expand Adient Aerospace’s here.

“These people are not only business associates, they’re also friends,” Guy said.

Adient Aerospace, a joint venture between Adient and Boeing, melds the Adient’s expertise in automotive seating with Boeing’s experience building aircraft.

In addition to Santa Maria, Adient Aerospace has operations in Huntington Beach plus Kaiserslautern, Germany.