With 11 years in the C-suite at Southfield-based Lear Corp. — five as its CFO and six as its CEO — Matt Simoncini oversaw the course of the Lear’s, decade-long turnaround following a recession-induced bankruptcy. He also moved a cutting-edge outpost of the company into downtown Detroit and served as a major force in philanthropic circles.
Born, raised, and educated in Detroit, Simoncini is one of the city’s most visible and enthusiastic supporters. A product of Detroit Public Schools and a graduate of Wayne State University, Simoncini is a true believer in Detroit’s resurgence. “We’re at a turning point for the city, finally,” he said. “I really believe that unlike any other time in my life, Detroit is on an incline and not a decline.”
Simoncini played a key role in positioning Lear to be part of that growth. In 2015, the Southfield, MI based automotive supplier began acquiring properties within Detroit. The company bought two Detroit buildings in 2015: the 50,000-square-foot Hemmeter Building on Centre Street and a building on State Street in Capitol Park. Located in close proximity to Wayne State University and the College for Creative Studies, that building will house an innovation and design center for automobile seats as well as software development. Simoncini also involved Lear in a city-led effort to establish an auto supplier industrial park near the junction of I-94 and I-75.
Simoncini’s efforts to revitalize the city go beyond an economic impact. He won the Detroit Free Press Automotive Leadership Award for suppliers in 2013 in part for spearheading the development of a program for Detroit schools that teaches mentoring skills to college-bound high school students. The renewed presence of Lear in Detroit, where it was founded in 1917, has had a positive impact on many people’s lives including Simoncini’s. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some personal satisfaction from seeing the Lear logo flying downtown again.”