Local execs see modest pay gain

Salaries of publicly traded companies’ leaders increased average of 4.1% in 2010

By Courtney Sherwood, Columbian freelance writer

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Executive pay is climbing again at Clark County’s four publicly traded companies.

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Corporate presidents, finance chiefs and other company leaders saw their compensation climb by 4.1 percent, on average, in 2010, according to a Columbian review of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings. These business leaders earned an average of $361,302 in salaries, bonuses and other compensation, including stock options and perks.

Over the same period, the average Clark County workers’ pay rose 1.5 percent, to $41,756.

Barrett Business Services Inc., Nautilus Inc., Northwest Pipe Co. and Riverview Bancorp Inc., the four Clark County businesses that must file executive compensation reports with the SEC, all pay far less than the nation’s largest companies. According to an Associated Press review of executive salaries, CEOs at the nation’s largest public companies saw pay climb 24 percent in 2010, to a median of $9 million.

Nationally, high executive pay has drawn criticism from corporate watchdogs, who worry that escalating salaries are often a sign of weak board oversight rather than a reward for strong performance. According to a recent report by the Motley Fool investing website, for example, Morgan Stanley CEO James Corman received $14 million in 2010, including close to $2 million in performance awards, despite falling share values at the company he helms. Recent financial reforms aim to give shareholders more say over salaries, but it’s too early to say how successful they’ll be.

Though Clark County’s execs out-earn the average worker, leaders here generally see their salaries rise and fall with corporate performance, and their compensation is relatively modest by national standards.

The highest paid Clark County executive in 2010, Northwest Pipe CEO Richard A. Roman, received compensation of $888,960. Roman took the job in March 2010, and earned about 22 percent more than his predecessor, Brian Dunham, took home in 2009. Dunham’s pay peaked at $2.1 million in 2008, but fell as the company experienced financial challenges and fell out of compliance with Nasdaq rules.