John Smale, 72, will retire as General Motors' lead director before GM's annual meeting in June, said GM Chairman Jack Smith. Smale led the 1992 boardroom coup that ousted then-Chairman Robert Stempel and put Smale and Smith in charge.
Smale served as chairman of GM from 1992 to January 1996. Under Smale, also a former chairman of Procter & Gamble Co., GM hired several top executives from outside the auto industry, including GM North America President Ron Zarrella.
Smale also is credited with bringing brand management to GM. 'In fact, the industry is basically adopting it despite the grumbling that takes place in Automotive News,' Smith said with a laugh. 'He has made an enormous contribution, not only to General Motors, but to the industry in the way we look at brands as opposed to the way we used to look at car lines,' he said.
Although the normal retirement age for GM directors is 70, Smale agreed to serve for two extra years.