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Former Oakley Executive to Get Over $1 Million

O.C. BUSINESS PLUS

Severance package for Schmidt, who quit last October, is small by industry standards.

April 12, 2000|LESLIE EARNEST | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After heading Oakley Inc. for about five months last year, William D. Schmidt departed with more than $1 million--and that might have been a bargain for the sunglass maker.

Schmidt, a former Gatorade executive, took the top job May 1 at the Foothill Ranch company, and quickly began expanding its marketing efforts. He abruptly resigned Oct. 6, after what a source said was a clash of management styles with founder and Chairman Jim Jannard.

Schmidt received a salary of $152,115 and a $250,000 bonus last year, according to a document filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The document did not describe the nature of the bonus, but the company said in earlier filings that Schmidt would receive a "signing bonus" in that amount.

The company also paid him $613,924 in connection with his hiring and resignation, the document said. But compensation expert Paul Murray said the severance package seemed "a little light."

Most chief executive severance packages are triple the executive's annual salary and bonus, said Murray, vice president of Compensation Resource Group in Los Angeles.

Schmidt's annual base salary was $350,000 and he was entitled to a bonus of up to 60% of his salary if the company met certain performance targets.

Under terms of the severance agreement, Schmidt will receive his annual salary through May 1, 2001, a $65,000 bonus and $8,500 for automobile and other expenses, the document said.

"CEO jobs don't pop up every day, so severance packages take into consideration that it would probably be hard to find a similar job in a short period of time," Murray said. "To get the best talent, you need to give them a very competitive package."

When Schmidt left, Jannard moved into the chief executive chair, the first time he had held the post since founding Oakley in 1975. Jannard became the fourth chief executive since Oakley went public nearly five years ago.

Jannard, who owns 60.7% of Oakley's stock, waived a salary and was not eligible for a bonus last year because the company failed to meet its performance targets, according to the documents. It was the third year that the founder did not receive a salary or bonus.

Murray said it is "very rare" for a chief executive to eschew a base salary. "Even the Warren Buffets of the world take a nominal salary," he said.

Oakley executives could not be reached for comment.

Oakley earned nearly $20 million last year on sales of $258 million.

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