Harold Arthur Poling

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Harold Arthur Poling
Born (1925-10-14)October 14, 1925
Troy, Michigan
Died May 12, 2012(2012-05-12) (aged 86)
Pacific Grove, California
Other names Harold Arthur "Red" Poling
Alma mater Monmouth College, Indiana University
  • President of the Ford Motor Company (1985—1987)
  • Vice-chairman (1988—1989)
  • CEO and chairman (1990—1993)

Harold Arthur "Red" Poling (October 14, 1925 – May 12, 2012) was a U.S. automobile businessman. He was born in Troy, Michigan.

He served as the president of the Ford Motor Company between 1985 and 1987, vice-chairman in 1988 and 1989,and as CEO and chairman from 1990 until 1993.[1] He made his mark at Ford's European Operations in the late 1970s and was widely considered as a savior of the company in his stint as executive vice-president for North America in the early 1980s.

Poling graduated from Monmouth College in 1949. He earned his MBA at Indiana University and began his career in 1951 as a cost analyst in the company's Steel Division. Poling made his swift climb through the company as a financial executive, serving as a manager, assistant controller, and controller of the transmission and chassis division during the 1960s, then as controller of the engine division, then controller of the car product development group. During this time he was responsible for codification of much of Ford's "Finance Manual", directing his subordinates in standardization of the company's financial reporting and analysis practices. During the mid-1970s he worked in Ford's European Operations.

In the late 1970s he was vice-president of corporate staffs, then in 1980 replaced William O. Bourke as executive vice-president of North American Automotive Operations (the company's biggest operating unit). The company was in cash and cost trouble, and Bourke refused to make some of the cost cuts that chairman Philip Caldwell thought necessary. Poling was never averse to cutting cost and succeeded in returning the unit to profitability. He was often cited as the man that saved Ford Motor Company in the 80's.

Prior to joining Ford, Poling served as a fighter pilot in the United States Navy. His sometime corporate rival, Robert Lutz, had been a fighter pilot in the United States Marine Corps. Their clashes sometimes led subordinates to joke about "who won the dogfight today?"

Poling was an avid and accomplished golfer.[2]

He died in 2012 at Pacific Grove, California. He was 86.[3]

Awards and Honors[edit]

In 1993 Poling was awarded the Lone Sailor Award by the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation for his naval career.


  1. ^ Associated Press (5 October 1993). "Ford chairman Harold Poling retiring, replacement named". Sun Journal. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  2. ^ Levin, Doron P. (April 22, 1990). "Now It's Red Poling's Turn at Ford". New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/. Retrieved October 18, 2015.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ Klayman, Ben. "Former Ford CEO Harold "Red" Poling dies". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/. Retrieved October 18, 2015.  External link in |publisher= (help)
Business positions
Preceded by
Donald Petersen
Chief Executive Officer of the Ford Motor Company
Succeeded by
Alexander Trotman