Pay fell or stayed flat for many CEOs at Snohomish County companies in 2009

By Mike Benbow Herald Writer

The recession was brutal on Snohomish County-based businesses last year.

Of the county’s 10 major publicly traded businesses, only two made a profit in 2009 — portable ultrasound equipment maker SonoSite and retailer Zumiez.

Two others — City Bank and Frontier Financial Corp. — made it through 2009 only to be gobbled up earlier this year in forced sales engineered by government regulators. As executives worked to save their banks, both delayed filing documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission on compensation for 2009.

As a result of those tough times, many of the chief executives of county-based companies saw their 2009 salaries fall or remain flat last year as many companies froze salaries or passed on stock options, according to the SEC documents.

The county’s biggest paid chief executives last year were Clay Siegall of cancer drug developer SeattleGenetics and Patrick Byrne of bar-code-device-maker Intermec, both of whom received compensation topping $2 million.

Both received a salary of about $600,000, with the majority of the compensation in company stock and stock options.

In its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, SeattleGenetics noted that it likes to provide long-term incentive compensation, such as stock options, because it “discourages short-term risk-taking.”

Byrne’s stock incentives were based on his performance in meeting the company’s business and financial goals.

He actually saw his base salary fall 10 percent in 2009 as the company first froze executive salaries because of the poor economy and later reduced them by 10 percent.

Byrne, the county’s top-paid CEO in 2007, slipped to second in 2008 and remained there last year.

Kevin Goodwin of SonoSite, the top-paid CEO in 2008, was seventh last year.

That’s because Goodwin received significant stock and options in 2008 and none last year. He did, however, receive a performance bonus of $203,000 in 2009.

At Cascade Financial, Chief Executive Carol Nelson made slightly more in 2009 than in the previous year, but her pay was still only about half what it was in 2007 because of big drops in incentive pay and bonuses.