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 Harold 'Red' Poling, Extraordinary Leader

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Harold A. Poling passed away on May 12, 2012 at the age of 86. He was living in Pacific Grove, Calif.

“Red Poling was an extraordinary leader who had a profound impact on Ford Motor Company and everyone who worked with him.  With a list of accomplishments that span 43 years, including leading the company through a remarkable turnaround during the 1980s and 1990s, Red was respected by all for his leadership, his passion for being the low-cost producer and  his genuine affinity for people.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
- Bill Ford, Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company

A memorial website for Red Poling has been developed by his family which will be used to share stories and photos of Red’s life and provide information regarding plans for his memorial service.  Visit his memorial website at www.redpoling.org to find out more information and share your stories.

Harold A. Poling began his career at Ford Motor Company in 1951 and retired as the chairman of the board and chief executive officer in 1994. Below is a look back at his career at Ford.

Harold A. “Red” Poling first worked at Ford Motor Company as an intern in the summer of 1950 while still a student at Indiana University. After receiving his MBA, he joined the Steel Division as a cost analyst. He went on to serve in the Engine & Foundry Division and the Product Development Group.
Poling was named Vice President – Finance of Ford of Europe in 1972. He implemented much-needed cost savings that helped to keep Ford of Europe in the black. He was promoted to President of Ford of Europe in 1975 and Chairman in 1977. The Fiesta, launched in Europe in 1976, has been going strong ever since.
In 1979, Red Poling was elected an Executive Vice President. In 1980, he became the Executive Vice President – North American Automotive Operations. He used his cost-cutting skills to help Ford weather the tough economic climate of the early 1980s. During this time, Ford premiered the Escort world car, and rededicated the company to the slogan, “Quality is job one.”
Poling implemented a firm 10-year product plan for North America. As a result, the years 1983-1984 saw more new products in North America than ever before—including modern “aero-design” Thunderbird, Cougar, Mark VII, Tempo and Topaz.
On February 1, 1985, Poling became the Ford Motor Company President and Chief Operating Officers. One of the biggest risks undertaken by Poling, and Ford Motor Company, was the bold new Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, introduced for the 1986 model year. The radically styled sedan and wagon were immediate hits and made Taurus one of America’s best-selling nameplates. In 1987, Ford Motor Company made a record income of $4.6 billion.
Red Poling was named Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of Ford Motor Company on March 1, 1990. That same year saw the debut of the segment-changing Ford Explorer. In 1992, the second-generation Taurus became the best-selling car in America.
In 1993, Ford Motor Company celebrated its 90th anniversary. Poling shared a toast with William Clay Ford at The Henry Ford.
Red Poling announced his retirement at the launch of the 1994 Mustang. He retired and was replaced by Alex Trotman on January 1, 1994.

  

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5/15/2012 12:00 PM