Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Poling Ends Ford Career as Cohesive Industry Voice

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Poling Ends Ford Career as Cohesive Industry Voice

Article excerpt

DEARBORN, Mich. _ The contents of Harold Poling's 42-year career at Ford Motor Co. were packed neatly in moving boxes, stacked under and around the windows of his corner suite. Curved tracks from the wheels of a hand cart marked the plush carpet, suggesting a move was well under way.

Poling, who had just ended his last trip as head of the No. 2 automaker, returned to the United States for a final Friday afternoon of work before beginning his retirement.

Before leaving, he agreed to an interview with The Associated Press, a discussion of his intentionally brief tenure. Poling was a surprise choice to lead the company in 1990, when Donald Petersen decided to retire early. Then 65, Poling agreed to serve for three years only.

Poling joined Ford as a cost analyst in 1951 and rose through the ranks to become president and chief operating officer in 1985. Alexander Trotman, another Ford lifer, succeeded him Monday as chairman and chief executive officer.

Despite his short term, Poling helped build a cohesive voice for the industry in Washington, and served as the automakers' spokesman. He led a campaign to force Japan to cut its trade surplus with the United States, and, most recently, helped negotiate a new three-year contract with the United Auto Workers that was used as a pattern for agreements at General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Corp.

Asked if he would consider a government position, Poling said "I've just retired. It will take time to see."

"I won't miss Friday night at 5 o'clock," he said. "That's when everybody comes and dumps all the bad news on you so you can worry about it all weekend. I won't miss the three hours of paperwork I have every night and the six hours on weekends before a board week. But I will miss the people."

Poling isn't sure who will assume the mantle as spokesman among the Big Three automakers on issues such as health care, the trade deficit with Japan and the North American Free Trade Agreement. …

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