business

You've Come A Long Way, Mr. Trotman

Talk about a rough road to the top. Back in 1969, Alexander J. Trotman was an ambitious young product planner for Ford in Europe anxious to move closer to headquarters. Indeed, when the Scottish-born manager's bid for a stateside transfer was denied, he threatened to quit. Ford finally offered him a U.S. job--but without moving assistance and only if he accepted a demotion. Trotman bought his own ticket and went.

Good thing. On Nov. 1, Trotman, 60, becomes Ford's chairman and CEO, replacing retiring Harold A. "Red" Poling. Now a U.S. citizen, Trotman has been working as chief of Ford's Auto Group.

What's he like? Trotman is often dubbed a "car guy," a characterization he disputes. "I'm as much a bean counter as Red Poling is," Trotman says. He'll need both skills: Ford's market share has been on the rise, but profits are a problem. In the first half, Ford earned just $1.3 billion on sales of $56.2 billion. Trotman says results will improve soon. How soon? He figures the auto maker is set to benefit from the launch of its Winstar minivan in the U.S. in January and from the startup of production of its Explorer off-road vehicle at a second plant in 1995. Just the precise timetable one would expect of a man who restores antique clocks as a hobby.

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