Things are still sunny at Vail Resorts, which operates five ski and snowboard slopes in Colorado and Lake Tahoe, Nev. The company's revenues rose in the second quarter, boosted by real estate sales. But CEO Rob Katz expects the situation to head downhill.
To prevent layoffs, he decided to take the biggest cut himself. Unlike the AIG executives taking big bonuses and salaries, Katz cut his $840,000 a year salary down to $0 for 2009, and he will take a 15% cut when it is reinstated.
Seasonal employees were asked to a 2.5% pay cut, and executives agreed to a 10% reduction. The company's board of directors has agreed to reduce their annual cash retainer by 20%. Total saved: More than $10 million annually.
"If I was going to ask someone making $8 an hour to take a pay cut, they needed to know I was doing something that would really affect me," Katz says. "No one wants to see their salary reduced, but at least in this case those at the top are making the biggest sacrifice."
In order to adjust to a $0 salary this year, Katz said he will cut back on expenses like travel and food.
"I'm making changes, but you can't compare the challenges I go through to some of our folks," he explains. "I've saved money because I've made more over my time. They need to find a way to put food on the table."
"People here would rather take a pay cut than see their colleague lose their job," he adds. "Everyone at the company is a hero." -- J.P.