The family's formidable stock block has been the center of a tug-of-war ever since. Last year, the board changed the rules for calling a special meeting to require support by 75 percent of the stockholders-prompting a new round of litigation. After months of legal back-and-forth, the Herricks won. Lenawee County circuit court judge Timothy Pickard ordered Tecumseh to hold a special shareholder meeting last November 21 to vote on the family's proposal to remove the remaining two directors on the board who'd voted to oust Todd Herrick. At that meeting, the motion failed. But the two sides have continued to battle over a proposed stock restructuring that would eliminate the family's special class of super-voting shares.
The company says fighting the lawsuits has cost it $5 million. The Herricks say their successors have only themselves to blame. "The company allowed itself to get distracted," says Cain. "Rather than giving what the Herricks had to say a fair hearing, they ended up wasting time and money trying to frustrate the foundation."
It was in the midst of this turmoil that Tecumseh Products moved to Ann Arbor. The company had drawn down its hometown headcount for decades, moving manufacturing first to states where labor is cheaper and then to countries where labor is much cheaper. By last July, all that was left was global management, a small manufacturing component, and a smaller research team.