The Herrick family is back on top at Tecumseh Products after their candidates won four of seven places on the company’s board of directors in August. Two opposing board members then resigned, leaving only one non-Herrick director, CEO Ed Buker. And since Buker was hired last year by the anti-Herrick forces (see “Family Feud” May 2009), how long he’ll last is anybody’s guess.
Now the Herricks have to decide what to do with the company they founded in 1930. They were pushed out in 2007 after the compressor manufacturer lost hundreds of millions of dollars, due largely to low-cost competition from China. Last year, the family foundation called for either distributing Tecumseh’s cash to shareholders or selling the company outright. But since then, Buker has spent most of that money trying to turn the situation around, and with the stock down a third in the last year, selling looks less attractive.
Family spokesman Jim Cain says only that the new board plans “to immerse themselves in the company…You have to have confidence like the shareholders do that they’ll make a difference and restore it to its proper place.” Just what that place might be, the Herricks won’t say.