The former president and chief operating officer at Servotronics Inc. is threatening to sue the Elma company over his ouster last fall.
The removal of Nicholas D. Trbovich Jr. from his post as the No. 2 executive at Servotronics in late September is threatening to spill over into a very public family feud among members of the Trbovich family, who have run the motion control equipment and cutlery manufacturer since its founding more than 50 years ago.
Servotronics never publicly disclosed a reason for removoing Trbovich from his post. In his place, the company, which was founded by Trbovich’s father, Nicholas D. Trbovich Sr., appointed the former executive’s younger brother, Kenneth D. Trbovich, to the president’s position and also named him chief executive officer of its Ontario Knife Co. cutlery business.
The brothers’ father founded Servotronics in 1959 and currently serves as its chairman and chief executive officer. The senior Trbovich, 77, also owns more than 20 percent of Servotronics’ stock, making him the company’s largest individual shareholder.
Randolph C. Oppenheimer, Nicholas Trbovich Jr.’s attorney, said Monday that his client was removed from his executive post “suddenly and without justification” by the company’s board, of which he was a member.
The company also has denied Trbovich Jr., who owns slightly more than 3 percent of Servotronics’ stock, “routine information” and prevented him from seeking another term as one of Servotronics’ directors at the firm’s annual shareholders meeting May 24.
“Nick has exercised extraordinary patience, inviting the board to engage in a dialogue with him and come to its senses,” Oppenheimer said. “Our hopes are fading that the board will act in good faith, and it appears that, with great reluctance, we may have to consider other options, including legal proceedings.”
A company spokeswoman did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Trbovich Jr.’s removal came a little more than two months after the company decided to terminate two real estate and personal property leases, worth a total of $150,000 a year, between his wife and Servotronics’ money-losing Aero Metal Products subsidiary, which closed during the fourth quarter of last year.
The closing was part of Servotronics’ efforts to revamp its cutlery business, which has been stung by declining military knife sales. As part of that restructuring, launched while Trbovich Jr. still held his executive position, Aero Metal Products was closed, and Servotronics sold its Queen City Cutlery business in September for $650,000.
Trbovich Jr. began working at Servotronics while he was in high school and has served on the company’s board of directors since 1990. He became the company’s chief operating officer in 2007 and was named its president in 2010.
He also is the inventor or co-inventor of nearly a dozen patents and pending patent applications that the company currently uses.
Trbovich Jr. has not been charging the company royalties for using those patents, Servotronics said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.