Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Ford Chairman Trotman Seeks Balance for Automaker

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Ford Chairman Trotman Seeks Balance for Automaker

Article excerpt

DEARBORN, Mich. _ Ford Motor Co. Chairman Harold Poling was known as the "bean counter" for his finance background. But drop the "car guy" label for incoming chairman Alexander Trotman, who has extensive productdevelopment experience.

"By the time you get to be a vice president at Ford, you really aren't a `car guy' or a `truck guy' or a `bean counter' or any of those labels," the 60-year-old Trotman said in a recent interview.

"You're an automotive executive and your job is to balance, (and) make all the tradeoffs that are necessary in doing that," he said, a hint of a Scottish brogue in his voice.

Achieving that balance, both here and abroad, will be one goal for Trotman when he replaces Poling at the helm of the second-largest automaker on Nov. 1. He will also hold the title of president and chief executive officer.

Ford's U.S. market share has been growing as it takes advantage of weakness at No. 1 General Motors Corp. and a favorable price gap between domestic and imported vehicles. But recession in major European markets means Ford likely will lose money there for the third straight year.

Ford's global challenges, though, have long been a preoccupation for Trotman, who served as chairman of Ford of Europe and president of Ford Asia-Pacific in Australia, among other things, during his 38 years with the automaker. Trotman was born in Middlesex, England, though raised in Scotland. He became an American citizen in 1975.

Hired in 1955 as a parts handler in Britain, Trotman hooked on early in product planning and had several winners to his credit in Europe that accelerated his career.

Along the way, he learned the business side of cars to the point where former chief financial officer Ed Lundy once said Trotman "could have been a finance guy."

As fiscal restraint became dogma during the recent U.S. recession, Trotman helped cost-cutting became a way of life at Ford. The only exception was spending on new products.

A company-prepared biography quotes Trotman: "I'd sell the furniture before I'd cut a single product program."

Comments like that have led some Wall Street analysts to question whether Ford spends too much to bring new vehicles to market. …

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