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PLAN SPONSOR OF THE YEAR

Corporate 401(k) >$50MM - $100MM

WD-40 Co.

Scott Farrell

TOTAL PLAN ASSETS/PARTICIPANTS: $70 million/180

PARTICIPATION RATE: 89.66%

AVERAGE DEFERRAL RATE: 9%

DEFAULT DEFERRAL RATE: None

EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTION: 50% match up to 6.6%; 10% nondiscretionary, 5% discretionary profit sharing  

When you work for WD-40 Co. —being the trademark name of the oil and water-displacing spray—a word you hear a lot is “tribe.” And while tribe does have an “I,” the company culture is focused on looking out for each other. A tribe protects its brand, people and community, writes Garry Ridge, president and CEO of WD-40 Co, in a video on the company’s website. So it comes as no surprise that WD-40 Co. is dedicated to protecting its workers—not just today but through their retirement.

To encourage participants to save aggressively, the company, with headquarters in San Diego, offers a 50% match, up to 6.6% of employee contributions. With the company’s 10% nondiscretionary annual profit-sharing contribution and 5% discretionary contribution (which has been made consistently in the past), the current company contribution equals an impressive 18.3% of qualifying compensation.

“At the maximum percentages, employees are saving the equivalent of nearly 25% of their salaries and incentive pay,” says Scott Farrell, committee chairman and director of tax treasury risk at the company.

Employees at WD-40 Co. are well on their way to a secure retirement as a result. The current participation rate is about 90%, with an average deferral rate of 9% and an average account balance of $333,681. Overall, 66% of WD-40’s Company employees are on track to meet the committee’s income replacement goal of 85%, according to Shawna Christiansen, senior retirement consultant at Retirement Benefits Group (RBG), the company’s adviser.

In Farrell’s opinion, lower fees are one of the greatest sources of pride in WD-40’s Company DC plan. Over the past six years, the plan’s total operational fees have decreased from 107 to 32 basis points (bps).

Last year, the company chose Empower Retirement as its new recordkeeper, after a vendor analysis determined the switch could provide participants with helpful online tools and lower investment fees, plus allow for fee equalization—the dividing of all fees evenly among participants in a flat fee, Farrell says.

“We are very sensitive to fees for our participants…. The impact of reducing fees is huge, over time,” Farrell says.
 
Further, Empower’s online technology allows employees to put numbers on things other than fees—such as monthly retirement income savings instead of presenting just the lump-sum total. In addition, the employee website details the expected annual cost of health care in retirement, which, Kimberly Juntunen director of global compensation & benefits at WD-40 Co. says was a selling point for choosing Empower as recordkeeper.

“We’re a learning organization,” Farrell says of the evolving retirement offerings and education. “We’re looking out for each other—trying to make each of us better.” —Corie Hengst

 

 

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