Challenge for Honeywell's New CEO: Keep Up the Winning Streak
By Thomas Gryta
MORRIS PLAINS, N.J. -- Darius Adamczyk was working at General Electric Co. in the 1990s when he realized there was more to life than devising algorithms for military programs.
"I really didn't see myself as an engineer 30 years from where I was at that point," he said in an interview earlier this month. "I kind of wanted to have a little more interaction with people on a day-to-day basis."
Now as the chief executive of Honeywell International Inc., the 51-year-old is deep in discussions with employees, customers and investors as he evaluates the sprawling conglomerate, including if it should remain whole.
In the job since late March, he succeeded his mentor, Dave Cote, who pulled off a turnaround at Honeywell, increasing its market value five-fold during his 14-year tenure and expanding the company through acquisitions so that it now makes everything from jet engines to thermostats. Its stock is up 19% so far this year, while shares of larger rival GE are down 23%.
Mr. Cote remains Honeywell's chairman through April, and Mr. Adamczyk is intent on continuing his winning streak.
"If this was all Dave, then we didn't build something that's sustainable, " he said.
Born in Poland, Mr. Adamczyk was 11 when he immigrated with his family to the U.S. An only child who didn't speak English, he picked up the language in about six months after they settled in Grand Rapids, Mich. He went on to study electrical and computer engineering at Michigan State University before joining GE as an electrical engineer. While there, he earned a master's degree in the field from Syracuse University.
After GE, he attended Harvard Business School, then spent four years at consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, followed by stints at industrial manufacturer Ingersoll-Rand PLC and scanning- and data-software firm Metrologic. Honeywell bought Metrologic in 2008, and Mr. Adamczyk, its CEO, joined Honeywell's executive team.