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Employee Retention of Stewart-Warner

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Employee Retention of Stewart-Warner
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Pratik Kukreja
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Employee Retention of Stewart-Warner - April 16th, 2011

Stewart-Warner is a US manufacturer of vehicle instruments, a.k.a. gauges. The company was founded as Stewart & Clark Company in 1905 by John K. Stewart. Their speedometers were used in the Ford Model T. In 1912 John Stewart joined with Edgar Bassick to make vehicle instruments and horns. Bassick owned Alemite Co and Stewart had bought the Warner Instrument Company, thus the name was changed to Stewart-Warner Corporation. The company started in Chicago and built a manufacturing plant on Diversey Parkway. The building kept expanding and finally covered one-million square feet (93,000 mē) and six floors. They also made radios and refrigerators, and produced the ubiquitous "zerk" grease fitting, named after its inventor, associated with the company. In the last years of the company's Chicago factory, it owned a number of aging six-spindle Brown & Sharpe and New Britain screw machines.
They also made heat exchangers starting in the 1940s under the "South Wind Division", but since then it became independent of its parent.
In the 1980s the company was bought by BTR plc who in the early 1990s decided to relocate to Juarez, Mexico and Stewart-Warner was taken over by another management team. In early 1998 Stewart-Warner was bought by Datcon Instrument Company (later renamed to Maxima Technologies), but kept the Stewart-Warner brand.

Now a brand of Maxima Technologies, Stewart Warner is perhaps the most recognized name in vehicle instruments in the history of the U.S. automotive industry. In fact, the brand -dates back to 1905 when John Stewart founded Stewart & Clark Company. Stewart brand speedometers were first used on original Ford Model Ts, after which the company established itself as a market leading supplier of instruments. Seven years later, in 1912, Stewart and Edgar Bassick joined forces to create a new company to manufacture vehicle instruments and horns. Bassick, whose acquisitions included the Alemite Company, and Stewart also acquired the Warner Company and, as such, the Stewart-Warner Instrument Corporation was born.

Started in Chicago, the firm erected a manufacturing plant on Diversey and- over time, the operation expanded outwardly in all four directions, thus becoming a massive complex with over one-million square feet and six floors, and many product divisions in addition to the instruments Division. Prominently situated in the middle of the factory, towards the front, was a huge clock tower featuring the words "Stewart" and Warner". Off to the right was another tower, also featuring the words Stewart Warner, that could be seen for miles around. Today, the old clock resides in front of an apartment complex on Diversey as the only reminder of this once sprawling facility.

Over the years, Stewart Warner Corporation's Instruments Division supplied a majority of the instruments, hourmeters and senders used by not only the automotive industry, but also by the heavy-truck and off-highway markets. The Instruments Division assets were eventually sold to a company that named itself Stewart Warner Instruments Corporation - whose assets were, in turn, acquired by the company that became today's Maxima Technologies. To honor this rich heritage, Maxima is proud to use Stewart Warner as one of it's brands.

An Employee Retention Agreement is a legal contract entered into by an employer and a key employee whose services the company desires to retain. When employees know that their company might be acquired, they understand that their employment security may be in danger. In these situations, companies who want to ensure these employees' continuing loyalty and commitment sometimes feel that it is in the best interests of the company and its stockholders to provide the employee with an incentive to continue his or her employment and to motivate the employee to maximize the value of the company upon a possible change of control.

Colleen E. Medill teaches Employee Benefits Law (ERISA), Property, Real Estate Transactions, and Wills, Trusts and Estates at the College of Law. In 2008,she was selected as the Professor of the Year by the first year law students. She received the College of Law's Distinguished Faculty Award from the Nebraska Alumni Council in 2007, and was selected as the Cline Williams Research Professor for 2006-2007.

Before joining the College of Law in 2004, Professor Medill was a Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee College of Law. While at Tennessee, she received both the W. Allen Separk Award for Faculty Scholarship and the Marilyn V. Yarbrough Faculty Award for Writing Excellence for her scholarship on federal retirement policy. She also received the Tennessee College of Law's highest honor for teaching, the Harold C. Warner Outstanding Teacher Award, and was selected as one of the ten finalists for the University-wide outstanding teacher award.

Professor Medill graduated first in her law school class from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1989 and served as an articles editor of the Kansas Law Review. At graduation she received the C.C. Stewart Award, which is awarded annually by the law school faculty to the Law School's outstanding graduate. After graduation from law school, Professor Medill served as a law clerk to the Hon. Deanell Reece Tacha, currently Chief Judge of the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Professor Medill was in private legal practice in Kansas City, Missouri, with the law firm of Stinson, Mag & Fizzell (now Stinson, Morrison & Hecker) from 1990 to 1997. Her private legal practice focused primarily on representing employers concerning tax, corporate, and litigation issues arising in the context of employee benefit plans. She also represented banks and bank holding companies concerning corporate and bank regulatory matters under federal and state laws.

Professor Medill is a frequent writer and speaker on federal retirement policy and ERISA. Professor Medill is the sole author of the casebook, INTRODUCTION TO EMPLOYEE BENEFITS LAW: POLICY AND PRACTICE (2d ed. 2007), which is used by over 25 law schools around the country. Her articles have been published in such journals as the Cornell Law Review, the Emory Law Journal, and the North Carolina Law Review. She is a regular contributor to the American Bar Association's Preview of U.S. Supreme Court Cases as a commentator on ERISA cases, and is a regular speaker on ERISA and federal retirement policy at national conferences on employee benefits law and public policy.

Professor Medill is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a member of the Employee Benefits Law Committee for the American Bar Association. She served as the Chair of the Association of American Law School's Section on Employee Benefits Law from 2003-2004, and currently serves as a member of the Section's Executive Committee. Professor Medill is actively engaged in retirement policy research and development at the national level. She is a Research Fellow of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a participant in the Conversation on Coverage, sponsored by the Pension Rights Center in Washington, D.C., and a member of the Pensions Working Group for the Tobin Project, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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