Median perks package down, but jets, cars and lavish payouts still abound

elyportillo@charlotteobserver.comJune 14, 2014 

Boards of North Carolina companies provided their CEOs perks ranging from jet travel and car allowances to supplemental retirement plan contributions and physicals.

Even so, the median perks package fell 22 percent last year, to $83,333. That’s still more than twice the median wage in North Carolina.

Some companies have cut back on perks such as club dues, said Mark Rosen, a Charlotte-based compensation consultant with Pearl Meyer & Partners.

“If you go back a few years, you’ll see a lot more golf club memberships,” he said. “It’s just harder to justify why we should be subsidizing that for someone who makes a decent living.”

Other perks, such as physical exams for executives, make sense, Rosen said. “We want to make sure the executives are taking care of themselves,” he said.

Here are some of the perks North Carolina’s CEOs got in 2013:

• Some companies paid cash. Former Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers cashed in $576,923 worth of unused vacation time when he retired last year. Duke notes his employment contract grandfathered in the right to cash in vacation time under an old program maintained by his previous employer, Cinergy Corp.

And CommScope’s Marvin Edwards received almost $1.2 million in cash connected to the company’s initial public offering last year.

• Companies let their CEOs ride the corporate jet. Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock used the company’s planes for $62,068 worth of travel, and Family Dollar CEO Howard Levine got $30,275. Murray Kessler, CEO of cigarette maker Lorillard, got plane use worth $242,493, while Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan received $448,251 worth of flights.

• Companies helped their CEOs move. New Snyder’s-Lance chief executive Carl Lee Jr. received $52,084 worth of relocation benefits to move to Charlotte, and $54,024 in additional payments to cover taxes associated with his relocation. SPX Corp.’s Chris Kearney received $46,481 worth of benefit from an interest-free, $1.5 million loan his company gave him when he moved to Charlotte in 2001.

• Companies helped their CEOs get around town with car allowances. Old Dominion Freight Lines’ David Congdon got a $9,100 allowance, while Polypore CEO Robert Toth and The Pantry Inc. CEO Dennis Hatchell both received $12,000 allowances. Belk Inc. gave CEO Tim Belk $5,115 for a car. But Bruton Smith, head of car dealership chain Sonic Automotive, got the biggest car allowance: $113,166, for the use of demo vehicles from his dealerships.

• Some companies help protect a CEO’s home. Thomas Pike, CEO of medical research company Quintiles Transnational, got a $25,777 home security system from his company.

• Some companies make sure their CEOs stay healthy with extra physicals. Lowe’s gave Niblock a $7,151 physical, for example.

• Companies also helped their CEOs deal with the complexity of their pay packages with tax preparation and financial planning. Bank of America gave Moynihan $28,134 worth of such services, while Carlisle Companies gave CEO David Roberts $34,254 of tax and financial planning.

• While supplemental executive retirement contributions don’t attract as much attention as jet travel, they can substantially pad a CEO’s nest egg. Hanesbrands CEO Rich Noll received $274,494 worth of supplemental retirement contributions.

• Some companies dole out cash allowances to their CEOs. Krispy Kreme gave outgoing CEO Jim Morgan a $2,000-per-month cash allowance, which the company increased to $2,500 in July.

Coca-Cola Bottling Co. gave chief executive Frank Harrison III a $45,000 cash allowance. Harrison “has the flexibility to keep or spend the allowance and is not required to report to the Company how the allowance is spent,” the company said in its explanation.

• Some perks are minor niceties: As part of her $6.4 million total pay package, Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good received a $250 residential thermostat device from Duke. The company also gave thermostats to its directors and other top executives.

Portillo: 704-358-5041; Twitter: @ESPortillo

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