TransDigm Chairman Earns $60+ Million Again, and Other Highlights from the Crain's Book of Lists

click to enlarge Crain's Book of Lists, 2022 - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
Crain's Book of Lists, 2022

The chairman of local aerospace manufacturer TransDigm, W. Nicholas Howley, continued his run of collecting more than $60 million in annual compensation, according to the 2022 Crain's Book of Lists.

Howley is by far the most extravagantly compensated executive in Northeast Ohio and has been for several years running. He pulled in a cool $68,122,801 in total compensation in 2020, the most recent full year available. The vast majority of those earnings ($56+ million) arrived via a company stock dividend payment. Howley's 2020 compensation is a 12% increase over his earnings in 2019 ($60.6 million), and more than $40 million more than any other CEO or non-CEO in the region.

Northeast Ohio's second-most-highly compensated individual is also a TransDigm personality, CEO Kevin Stein. He earned $22 million in 2020. Like other top executives, Stein's "salary" hovers at about $1 million, but he is massively compensated via stock options and dividend payments.

Howley's compensation, however, stands in grotesque isolation. He chairs a company that has made headlines in recent years for its alleged price-gouging, charging the Federal government stratospheric sums for rudimentary (but proprietary) aircraft components. Howley founded the company in the early 90s and is one of the highest-paid executives in the United States.

Executive compensation is only one of dozens of lists that appear in the annual Crain's Book of Lists, a bible for journalists, researchers and those keeping tabs on the local economy. Its data demonstrate that despite the perils and economic precarity of the pandemic, money was flowing in Northeast Ohio in 2020.

Large philanthropic gifts, for example, were more or less consistent with charitable contributions in 2019. Unlike in 2019, when the Lord Foundation of Ohio donated $261 million to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, the largest gift in 2020 was a mere $42 million, (from JoAnn and Bob Glick to the MetroHealth Foundation), but there were seven individual donations of $10 million or more in both 2019 and 2020. In both years, roughly 2/3 of the top donations went to local hospitals. (The Mandel Foundation $50 million donation to the Cleveland Orchestra will undoubtedly clock in near the top of next year's list.)

The sale of very expensive homes inched upwards as well, with 16 individual homes selling for more than $2 million in 2020. There were only nine such sales in 2019. The two homes that sold for more than $3 million in 2020 were located in Moreland Hills and Rocky River.

The Moreland Hills purchase alone might have been enough for the southeastern suburb to edge out Gates Mills as the fourth wealthiest suburb in Northeast Ohio, as ranked by median household income. In 2019, the top five were: Hunting Valley, Bentleyville, Pepper Pike, Gates Mills and Moreland Hills. In 2020, the positions of Moreland Hills and Gates Mills were reversed.

The Cleveland Clinic remained the region's top employer by a considerable margin, with nearly 45,000 local employees. That's a full 20,000 employees ahead of the region's number-two employer, University Hospitals.

There was some movement among the region's top 10 largest publicly traded companies. Sherwin-Williams overtook Progressive for the top spot, and FirstEnergy, the subject of the largest bribery scandal in Ohio's history, fell from No. 4 to No. 7.

The Top 10, then, ranked by market value, are as follows: 1) Sherwin-Williams, 2) Progressive, Eaton, 3) Eaton, 4) Parker-Hannifin, 5) TransDigm, 6) KeyCorp, 7) FirstEnergy, 8) Steris, 9) The J.M. Smucker Company, 10) Nordson.

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