Alexander Trotman began his career at Ford Motor Co. as a lowly student trainee in the UK purchasing department in the Dagenham plant. He would eventually become CEO and preside over some of Ford’s most profitable years.
As someone who worked his way up, Trotman firmly believed in meritocracy – so much so that he opposed the ascent of Bill Ford to chairman of the company that bears his name.
In 1998 after the Ford family had retaken control, Fortune magazine reported Trotman said to Bill Ford: “So now you have your monarchy back, Prince William.”
Bill Ford paid tribute to Trotman last week: “Alex was a great friend, colleague and leader of the extended family of Ford employees around the world. He was the driving force behind a vast array of visionary changes in Ford’s global management and innovative products. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”
Trotman had a keen eye for product, starting in the 1960s as chief analyst for the Ford Cortina.
“That car was brought to manufacture under his guidance. It was a tremendous success,” said Nick Scheele, former Ford president.
As CEO, Trotman led Ford’s shift from cars to more profitable SUVs.
Trotman was known for being organized. Said Bruce Blythe, former chief strategy officer for the company: “Some executives are always on the ragged edge. He wasn’t. He was always very calm, very orderly. People just had confidence in him as an executive.”
Ian Slater, public affairs head for Ford Europe, said employees in England were shocked by the sudden death. He said: “He was a joy to work with, a complete gentleman.”
Trotman and wife Valerie were avid hill walkers. Despite US residences in Boston and Naples, Florida, they kept a cottage in Yorkshire as a base for walking.
Trotman is survived by his wife and four children.