"Tricap would loan $100 million," says Hess, "but they told us the company needed to seek professional, non-family management. We agreed. Todd Herrick agreed, though he probably thought he'd get to step down at a time of his choosing. But things had gotten so critical so quickly that the board felt it had to act immediately-and it put Todd Herrick out as CEO in January of '07" by a vote of 3-2.
The Herricks' spokesperson, Jim Cain, sees things differently. "Todd had already agreed to step down before the board approached Tricap," he says. "If you've already agreed to resign, how can you be fired?" Yet Todd Herrick himself, in a legal deposition, described his departure as a "firing." His son, Kent, a company vice-president, departed the same day.
Whatever the circumstances, the Herricks were plainly unhappy. Todd still chaired the company's board, and within weeks he nominated two new members. The Herricks' spokesperson at the time said they did so because "we really felt that the board needed people of more experience in financial matters." Hess suspects a different motive: "Todd nominated two people of his choice because he wanted to regain his management position."
"Todd Herrick has said throughout this entire battle that he doesn't have any design to return to a leadership role in the company," responds Cain. But just in case he did, the company majority on the board moved to expand the board to seven members to try to prevent the Herricks from retaking control. Then they booted Herrick off the board.