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Posts Tagged ‘Executive Pay’

Keith E. Wandell, CEO Harley-Davidson

$6.4M to be exact. 

May 1st through the end of 2009 marked eight months on the job for Keith E. Wandell, the CEO of Harley-Davidson Inc., and for that privilege he was delivered a pay package valued at $6.4 million, according to the Associated Press.  

The company ended the fourth quarter with a loss of $218.7 million, its first quarterly loss in 16 years.  In addition, management spearheaded a slashing strategy which included massive employee layoffs, closing of factories, negotiated union concessions under the threat of plant re-location and shuttered or sold unwanted brands.

But, talk about an obsession with fairness!  

The board delivered a pay package to Mr. Wandell with a base salary of $650,025 from his start date and he received a bonus of $780,030 and stock and option awards valued at $4.9 million at the time they were issued.  He also received other compensation worth $22,515, which includes a cash payment of $19,733 instead of perquisites.  In total it was valued at $6.4M.

For those in the job market who survive on high-end discretionary spending by consumers, might take a moment of pause and wonder if Mr. Wandell’s approximately $26,700 per day compensation package is just a bit tad excessive?

True it was during a time that management seemed caught like a deer in the head light as they watched the company’s outbound shipments decrease by more than 25%!  I’m not taking shots at the employees.  These executive compensation issues have been around for a long time, and much of the company performance blame lays right at the feet of management and specifically the previous CEO, Jim Ziemer, who takes the golden parachute award for world-class nonperformance during his last year.  Talk about setting up his predecessor with competitiveness and cost structure issues. 

But, is it an excuse for the CEO to say, ‘Hey, the board gave it to me.’ Or should CEOs be responsible too and provide leadership when compensation packages defy economic logic?!  Mr. Wandell is a very capable executive who chalked up impressive business success.  Yet, significant rewards for great results can still be attacked. Especially if the rewards for CEOs and their teams become extraordinarily high with no link to performance – and shareholders are left holding the bag – then it undermines people’s confidence in the company itself.

What are the results at H-D?  But, it’s only been 8 months you say.  Exactly my point.  The one bit of positive news on H-D that I found is that the daily average on HOG’s stock value has risen about 20% since Mr. Wandell has moved in and taken the helm.  

Photo courtesy of H-D. 

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