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August 4, 2020

Executive Compensation at the National Retail Federation

by Anne Paddock

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c) (6) – a membership based trade association  – whose mission is to “advance and protect the interests of the retail industry and to help retailers achieve excellence in all areas of their business.” That’s quite a mission, given the retail environment in this country.  Retailers – both national chains and local – are closing daily.

Often referred to as the “voice of retail,” the NRF raises about $60 million annually with most revenue (about 80%) coming from events (an annual convention and about 20 conferences and workshops) and special projects. Membership dues only provide about $8 million (or about 12% of total revenue) annually to NRF. So, this organization is an event-centered trade association.

In 2017, the NRF reported total revenue of $60 million.  In 2017, expenses totaled $60 million.  Although the organization typically spends as much as they bring in, the NRF has managed to accumulate $33 million in net fund assets by 2018.

The organization’s three largest expenses in 2017 were:

  • $21 million (35% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $20 million (33% of revenue):  Travel and Conferences
  • $ 8 million (13% of revenue):  Fees for Services (primarily lobbying)

147 employees received $21 million in compensation, which equates to an average compensation of $143,000. However, only 48 employees (about 1/3) received more than $100,000 in compensation with the 8 most highly compensated reported to be:

  • $3,436,437:  Mathew R Shay, President and CEO
  • $  830,201:  Carleen C Kohut, EVP/COO
  • $  769,077:  David French, SVP, Gov’t Relations
  • $  608,174:  William Thorne, SVP, Public Relations
  • $  507,362:  Susan Newman, SVP, Conferences
  • $  439,833:  Artemis Sakell, Senior Director, Exhibits and Sponsors
  • $  430,416:  Mallory B Duncan, General Counsel (retired 8/17)
  • $  342,306:  Paul Martino, VP, Senior Policy Counsel

The 8 most highly compensated employees received $7.3 million in compensation. If total compensation were adjusted to exclude the 8 most highly compensated employees, then 139 employees were compensated $13.7 million, which equates to an average compensation of $99,000.

5 of the 8 most highly compensated employees are male while 3 are female.

The NRF paid for first class or charter travel. Specifically, the NRF paid for first class travel for NRF employees for overseas travel.

The NRF paid for companion travel. Specifically, the NRF paid for companion travel for the CEO’s spouse.

The NRF paid for health or social club dues or initiation fees. Specifically, the NRF paid for monthly club dues for one employee (not stated who) for business purposes.

36 independent contractors received more than $100,000 in compensation. The five most highly compensated were reported to be:

  • $3,901,408:  DDC Public Affairs (a lobbying group) of Washington, DC for coalition management and communications
  • $2,409,320:  Freeman Audio Visual of Dallas, TX for convention audio visual
  • $1,911,160:  The Freeman Companies of Dallas, TX for show management
  • $1,069,120:  The Tombras Group of Knoxville, TN for branding, content, and media planning
  • $ 807,600:  Craft Media of Washington, DC for media support

To read the IRS Form 990 (2017 for the year ending February 28, 2018), click here.

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