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August 2, 2022

Executive Compensation at FMI

by Anne Paddock

In the food industry, there is “The Food Industry Association” whose name was legally change to “Food Marketplace Inc” (FMI) – a non-profit, tax-exempt organization based in Arlington, Virginia whose mission, as a trade association, is to “represent, educate and improve the food industry.”  Formerly called the Supermarket Institute (and the Food Industry Association, FMI represents an estimated 1,500 members who have 40,000 retail food stores, 25,000 pharmacies and an indeterminate number of suppliers and business partners within the food retail industry.

In a country flush with trade associations that raise hundreds of millions of dollars, FMI is small:  they raise about $30 million annually ($26-$32 million annually over the most recent 7 year period) that comes primarily from two sources (membership dues and registration fees/exhibit fees, and sponsorships) and spend slightly less (primarily on compensation for the 91 employees, travel and conferences, fees for outside services, and office expenses).

At year-end 2019, FMI had $25 million in net assets but it is important to note there is also a FMI Foundation and operating out of the same office address as FMI, that has $10 million in net assets; and a PAC, FoodPac, that also operates out of the same office address.

Leslie G Sarasin has been President and CEO of FMI since 2008. What is astounding is her compensation over the past 7 years ($15 million) as reported on the Form 990 submitted to the IRS:

  • $2.8 million: 2019
  • $2.5 million:  2018
  • $2.4 million:  2017
  • $2.2 million:  2016
  • $2.0 million:  2015
  • $1.7 million:  2014
  • $1.4 million:  2013

FMI has 91 employees who received $16 million, which equates to an average compensation of $176,000. However, only 45 employees received more than $100,000 annually which suggests there are some very well compensated employees at the top.  The 14 most highly compensated employees were:

  • $2,838,789:  Leslie Sarasin, President and CEO
  • $  739,574:  Dagmar T Farr, Secretary
  • $  621,446:  Mark Baum, SVP
  • $  599,054:  Jennifer Hatcher, SVP
  • $  550,710:  Salvadore J DiCarlo, Treasurer and CFO
  • $  449,340:  Patrick J Walsh, VP
  • $  418,343:  Robert Garfield, SVP
  • $  327,241:  Hilary Thesmar, SVP
  • $  320,848:  Margaret Core, VP
  • $  289,801:  David Nikes, VP
  • $  277,727:  Richard Stein, VP
  • $  268,570:  Susan T Borra ,SVP (until 8/2019)
  • $  254,357:  Douglas Baker, VP
  • $  254,102:  John Schulz, Senior Director

The 14 most highly compensated employees received more than $8 million, more than half of all compensation paid out to employees.  If the 14 employees and corresponding compensation are deducted from total employees and total compensation then the remaining 77 employees received total compensation of $8 million, which equates to an average compensation of $104,000, still significant for a small non-profit but significantly less the the overall average compensation.

9 of the 14 (64%) most highly compensated employees are male while 5 (36%) are female, including the most highly compensated employee, Leslie Sarasin, President and CEO.

FMI paid for health or social club dues or initiation fees. Specifically, FMI paid for social club dues for Leslie G Sarasin, President and CEO, which was treated as taxable compensation. In addition, FMI paid for travel club dues for Mark Baum, Dagmar Farr, and Robert Garfield with all reimbursements treated as taxable compensation. All of which means, the reimbursable health club and travel club dues may not have been for business purposes because these expenses were treated as personal compensation.

FMI also paid for companion travel. Specifically, FMI paid for spouse travel for Leslie G Sarasin.

The question to ask is why FMI is paying the President/CEO nearly $3 million annually along with spousal travel and social club dues when the organization only raises about $30 million annually?  In addition and in reference to 2019, why did FMI pay 14 employees more than $8 million (27% of total revenue) when the organization only raised $30 million?

To read the IRS Form 990 (2019), click here.

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