Stephen Wolf was the head of Republic who sold to Northwest. He joined the company in 1984, and it was the 10th largest airline in the country at that point. Basically, the airline was in trouble because it was just the stitched together route networks of Hughes, North Central, and Southern still. It served more cities than any other carrier. He bought 95,000 options of Republic stock when he joined, not wanting to take wage concessions from the employees (it was the only carrier that hadn't yet exacted wage concessions).
Wolf stopped using "Herman" as the logo and went to the white/grey paint scheme that many aircraft had by the merger. He reworked the route system so that it was hub-and-spoke. Republic's stock soared, and so did Wolf's options value. The airline profited for the first time in five years. In 1985, when United went on strike, Republic did extremely well and had the second highest profit of any carrier in the nation. But, with an older and varied fleet, it would cost a lot of money to replace it, so Wolf decided to leave.
Wolf met with Steven Rothmeier of NW
to organize a merger, and even planned a potential hostile takeover of NW
in order to provoke them to buy Republic. Northwest paid $1 billion for Republic... Wolf's then 163,000 options at $3.75 were worth $17 a piece and he cashed out and left, plus received another million dollars in severance.
The merger was interesting.... 14 union groups total, incompatible fleets, different routes. Republic employees were paid less than NW
at the time, due to wage concessions in turning the airline around. Northwest suffered heavily, as Republic pilots had work slowdowns, flight attendants protested, etc.
And then Wolf went to Flying Tiger to do the same thing.