Nerves were a little on edge in Sidney during the month of September 1982. Workers at Bendix Corp., today’s Amphenol, were closely following a corporate takeover contest between Martin Marietta Corp. and United Technologies, bidding for Bendix. What this meant to their jobs was foremost on workers’ minds.
This contest, of sorts, had begun Aug. 25. At that time, Bendix announced it would try to acquire Martin Marietta, a manufacturer of aerospace products, for $1.5 billion. Marietta then countered with a $1.5 billion offer of their own for Bendix, whose major business was automotive products. The Sidney plant manufactured electrical connections for hydraulic fluid transmission in aircraft at the time.
United Technologies joined in the takeover bid as an ally of Marietta on Tuesday, Sept. 7. All companies remained generally quiet during the bidding. At the Bendix headquarters in Southfield, Mich., Chairman William M. Agee urged Bendix employees to retain their company stock rather than sell it to Marietta at a profit.
On Tuesday morning, Sept. 14, employees in Sidney got a chance to see what their company managers were doing about a likely takeover by one of the companies. Employees viewed videotaped messages, including one from Chairman Agee, discussing an upcoming meeting of Bendix shareholders the next week. The tapes were shown on video screens around the plant, including one in the employee cafeteria.
That next Monday, Sept. 20, was billed as “Bendix Unity Day,” as the nearly 500,000 employees at more than 100 plants across the nation, including Sidney, participated in rallies for their company.
As The Daily Star described the Sidney event, “It had the appearance of an election picnic, complete with bumper stickers, Styrofoam hats and balloons. Perhaps, to a certain extent, it was.”
Sidney’s 2,000 employees heard speeches from company administrators and noted community figures, in an attempt to influence employee shareholders to hang on to their shares of Bendix stock.