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(Reuters) - Harold "Red" Poling, Ford Motor Co's chief executive in the early 1990s, has died, the U.S. automaker said on Tuesday.

Poling, who lived in Pacific Grove, California, was 86. No cause of death was given.

He retired from Ford on January 1, 1994, after a 43-year career with the company. He was widely credited with imposing a tough restructuring program that turned around Ford's money-losing North American automotive operations in the early 1980s.

"Red Poling was an extraordinary leader who had a profound impact on Ford Motor Co and everyone who worked with him," Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr said in a statement.

"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," Bill Ford added.

Poling was elected chairman in 1990, succeeding Don Peterson. Poling was succeeded as chairman by Alex Trotman, who died in 2005.

Poling joined Ford in 1951 as a cost analyst in the steel division controller's office and held various finance positions before rising to lead Ford's European operations in the mid- and late 1970s.

He was named vice president of the company's North American auto operations in 1980 and was promoted to president and chief operating officer of the company in 1985. He was named vice chairman in 1987.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman; editing by John Wallace)

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