Hunting for Perks in Proxy Season

Proxy season is heating up, and every year we come across perks that don’t quite fit the mold. Once upon a time, we used to write about these sorts of perks more regularly. But lately, to borrow a line from the hit movie, Frozen, we tend to “Let it Go.”

Still, one of those unusual perks remains close to our heart: the company-owned sports lodge. That’s because back in 2008, we discovered  A. Schulman’s fish camp, which won Footnoted’s “Worst Footnote of 2008.” There was also the  executive dude ranch that we wrote about in 2012.

We suppose that reasonable people might disagree on the need for this type of thing. After all, when it comes to perks and the “business reasons” for doling them out, there’s probably not much difference between a sports lodge, a country club, and a downtown lunch club.

Still, when we read the proxy that ArcBest Corporation filed, we thought it was worth sharing. Granted, this isn’t a new disclosure for the company, which was formerly known as Arkansas Best Corp. But it strikes us as odd that the company’s “lodging facility and related hunting property” appears to benefit just one person: Chairman of the Board and former CEO, Robert A. Young, III.

In a footnote to a footnote in the Director’s Compensation Table on page 18, Young’s usage of the lodge and hunting property is described as “infrequent.” Instead, the company says Young’s perks, which include several other things, including spousal travel to company events and the help of an executive assistant on personal matters, totaled $52,850.

What’s particularly interesting is that a quick look at prior proxies — the hunting property shows up each year dating back to 2007 — shows that Young, who stepped down as CEO nearly a decade ago — always seemed to be the only person who used the property. Although the proxy states that the hunting lodge is owned for business entertainment purposes, nothing in any of the company’s filings going back to 2007 suggests that the lodge was (or is) ever used for that purpose. For example, it’s never mentioned under the “Properties” section in any of the company’s 10-Ks, including the most recent one, which was filed on March 2. The company-owned property is mentioned exactly one time each year in ARCB’s SEC filings, and that’s to say that Young uses it personally.

We tried finding images and other posts about the Arcbest property, but came up empty-handed, which seems surprising in an era of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. Surely, if it really is used for business purposes, it would show up somewhere.