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Posted September 23, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Executives take pay cut

By James Heffernan -- jheffernan@nvdaily.com

Executives at several top local companies took a pay cut last year -- in the form of smaller bonuses and depleted stock options -- in a nod to the economic downturn.

An analysis of publicly traded companies' corporate proxies and 10-K statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that in some cases, the loss of income was significant -- proof that the sting of the recession is reaching even the highest rungs on the corporate ladder.

Shentel President and CEO Christopher E. French took home $565,245 in salary, bonuses, stock awards and other compensation in 2008, down from $899,809 the previous year.

Similarly, Earle A. MacKenzie, Shentel's executive vice president and chief operating officer, saw his total compensation last year drop to $478,078 from $605,294 in 2007.

The declines were mostly in the value of performance shares of Shentel stock, which are granted to executives only if certain company-wide criteria, such as earnings per share, are met. The difference cost French more than $376,000; with MacKenzie, the figure was just over $166,000.

Shentel executives' reduced compensation in 2008 came in spite of annual increases in salary and the telecommunications company's solid financial results, which included year-over-year jumps in sales and earnings.

With the exception of Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Adele M. Skolits, who joined the company in late 2007, Shentel did not give its executives stock options last year.

Similar reductions were seen in other local business sectors.

John R. Milleson, president and CEO of Bank of Clarke County, received a $30,000 pay raise last year -- including a $10,000 bonus to bring his salary in line with that of other top banking executives in the area -- but his overall compensation fell nearly $133,000 to $293,101.

CFO James W. McCarty Jr.'s compensation fell from $246,647 to $199,930.

Bank of Clarke executives missed out on annual incentive payments -- each a percentage of the person's base salary -- when the company failed to hit established goals for net income and return on equity in 2008. The bank's holding company, Eagle Financial Services, saw its earnings tumble 23 percent last year as the economy caused more past-due loans and its investments suffered.

First Bank President and CEO Harry S. Smith and Executive Vice President Dennis A. Dysart's total compensation also fell last year, to $286,905 and $170,020, respectively, again largely due to the loss of certain performance-based bonuses.

Not every corporate CEO in the northern valley suffered a pay cut, however.

Cabinet maker American Woodmark's chief executive, Kent B. Guichard, received $1.5 million in total compensation for the company's fiscal year ended April 30, in part due to an increase in salary and additional incentives and bonuses upon his promotion to the position in 2008.

And Ronald W. Kaplan, who was brought in in January 2008 to return composite deck maker Trex to profitability, received $2.25 million last year, including a base salary of $480,770, a $200,000 signing bonus, $207,000 in relocation costs, $8,800 in annual country-club dues and a $9,000 allowance for a company car.

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