Stephen R. Polk ’78
B.S., Denison University
Citation awarded June, 2013
Stephen Polk is Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of R. L. Polk & Co. He continues the family legacy as the fourth generation Polk to lead the company his great-grandfather founded in 1870 as a publisher of city directories.
The company began serving the auto industry in the early 1920s when Alfred P. Sloan, president and later chairman of General Motors, asked Ralph Lane Polk II to impartially tabulate and publish automotive statistics.
Today, R. L. Polk & Co. is a globally integrated organization providing automotive intelligence, marketing solutions and vehicle history information through its independent operating units, Polk and CARFAX. Vehicle manufacturers, dealers, the aftermarket, and others around the globe turn to Polk and CARFAX to help them grow their businesses.
Stephen joined the organization in 1981. During his career, he has focused on preparing the company for success in the 21st century. He restructured the organization around customers’ needs and accelerated the development of new products and services, streamlining operations and sharpening the company’s focus—to be the number-one provider of information and marketing solutions for the automotive industry.
Stephen is active in a variety of local business and civic organizations. He serves as chairman for the Automotive Hall of Fame, vice chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Cranbrook Educational Community and vice president and director for the Detroit Zoological Society. He also serves on the board of directors of Fifth Third Bank of Southeast Michigan and Beaumont Hospitals. In addition, Stephen is a member of the board of Leader Dogs for the Blind, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the College for Creative Studies. Through the Ralph & Winifred Polk Foundation, over 60 local charities are supported.
Stephen and his wife Bobbi live in Bloomfield Hills and have four children, one of whom, Ryan, will begin attending Denison in the fall, and three grandchildren. He is an avid runner and enjoys biking and exercising regularly. Stephen’s hobbies include sailing and photography, and he enjoys spending time with his family.