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Vic Poleni, Former Cadillac Fleet Manager, 1935-2019

Martin Romjue
Posted on March 13, 2019
Vic Poleni worked closely with operators from 1985 to 1998 as Cadillac's key manager of the limousine and livery fleet vehicle program. He was well known at LCT trade shows. (LCT 1988 file photo)

Vic Poleni worked closely with operators from 1985 to 1998 as Cadillac's key manager of the limousine and livery fleet vehicle program. He was well known at LCT trade shows. (LCT 1988 file photo)

Vic Poleni, a limousine/livery fleet manager for Cadillac in the 1980s and 1990s, died March 11. He was 83.

Poleni was a veteran of General Motors, serving the company for 43 years. Most recently, he led the General Motors Retiree Association's board of directors as vice president and chairman. The group has about 6,000 members.

As a fixture in the limousine industry, Poleni regularly attended LCT trade shows to represent Cadillac's limousine and livery fleet program. Most notably, Poleni rolled out the first limousine conversion certification program for the automaker, the Cadillac Master Coachbuilder (CMC), which permanently upgraded the quality standards to which stretch limousines were built.

With the rest of his team at Cadillac, Poleni worked with coachbuilders and manufacturers to engineer configurations for stretched Cadillac vehicles that could boost their reliability, safety, and endurance.

He and his team also introduced the Cadillac Commercial Vehicle Protection Plan, which covered Cadillac vehicles for 36 months or 250,000 miles at a time when limousine operators were running an average of 100,000 miles a year. Poleni was proud to represent "The Standard of the World" at the several fleet industry shows throughout the year.

LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-Richardson, who started with LCT as the trade show manager in 1991 before becoming publisher in 1994, fondly recalled working with Poleni.

“Vic was one of the first guys I met in this business,” she said. “He was head of Cadillac and always complaining about how much ink Ford was getting over him. Every magazine issue that came out, Vic literally did a word count to make sure it was even-Steven. He was such a character, but a larger than life icon that made everyone smile.”

In a July 1995 interview with then Limousine & Chauffeur Magazine, now LCT, Poleni discussed some of the current fleet trends, some unique to the times and others eerily similar to today.

“Niche markets, however, are extremely important,” says Vic Poleni, manager fleet/limousine activity. “We’d like to keep them as long as we can.”

Poleni speculated that GM will be considering the front-wheel-drive DeVille as a possible replacement for the Fleetwood, thus attempting to steer the limousine industry away from traditional preferences for rear-wheel-drive vehicles.

However, Poleni maintains that technological advancements in production methods and engineering have made front-wheel-drive cars competitive once again.

“With advancements in suspension systems, it doesn’t matter whether the car has a short-wheel base or a long wheelbase, cars can be made to drive the same — hard or soft — depending on preference,” Poleni says.

According to Poleni, the livery industry is also gearing towards smaller vehicles, citing an increase in the livery sedan market as opposed to three years ago. “Stretch limousines are on the ostentatious side. Corporate executives don’t want to be picked up in front of their businesses in a stretch limousine. The executives are now more image-conscious. They are leaning more and more toward sedan use.”

At the 1994 Limousine & Chauffeur Show in Las Vegas, Poleni (L) awarded a Cadillac golf bag and plaque to Ray Maidment of the Lincoln Division for his low gross score. Maidment graciously accepted the prize. (LCT file photo)

At the 1994 Limousine & Chauffeur Show in Las Vegas, Poleni (L) awarded a Cadillac golf bag and plaque to Ray Maidment of the Lincoln Division for his low gross score. Maidment graciously accepted the prize. (LCT file photo)

In addition to his roles with the limousine industry, Poleni earlier in his career  served as Cadillac's regional fleet executive for the Midwest, metro district sales manager in St. Louis, Mo., and as assistant manager of fleet and leasing for Cadillac.

Poleni first started working with Cadillac's commercial vehicle program in 1985 and retired from the commercial fleet division in 1998. He took on his recent role with the General Motors Retiree Association in May 2005. LCT Magazine mentioned Poleni as one of the industry's most influential people in a July 2004 article.

Poleni attended the University of Detroit Mercy, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1963. He also graduated from the General Motors Institute in Flint, Mich.

He was born in Detroit in August 1935, and lived in Granbury, Texas in his retirement. He is survived by his wife Barbara; daughters Martha, Michelle, and Lisa; and son, William.

Additional article source: Automotive Fleet Magazine

Related: 1988 LCT interview with Vic Poleni: Cadillac Sharpens Focus On The Limousine Industry

Related Topics: Cadillac, Cadillac CMC, Cadillac DeVille, Cadillac Fleetwood, Cadillac Professional Vehicles, deaths, General Motors, limo tradeshows, memorial, obituary, Vic Poleni

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • george h jacobs

     | about 5 months ago

    RIP Vic: You were a terrific person and lots of fun.

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