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Here are the highest-paid CEOs in 2020 in Tampa-St. Pete

Margie Manning



From left, James "Joc" O'Rourke, Mosaic; Mark Mondello, Jabil; and Paul Reilly, Raymond James, were the highest-paid CEOs locally last year.

Most of the chief executive officers at the largest publicly traded companies in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area got pay packages increases in 2020.

Median pay for 16 CEOs who were in their jobs for the past two years grew from nearly $3.5 million in 2019 to just over $5.25 million last year.

As a group, the CEOs’ total compensation jumped 17.9 percent in 2020, with increases for 12 individual CEOs ranging from 1 percent to 245 percent in 2020. Four CEOs took pay cuts last year.

Total compensation for most executive officers, including CEOs, at public firms includes a base salary, as well as stock awards and options, and incentive bonuses, both in cash and in stock. That compensation, which is published in proxy reports, annually comes under the microscope in advance of corporate shareholder meetings, which generally take place in the spring.

It’s under increased scrutiny this year, as many rank-and-file workers struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, a strong stock market pushed up the value of the stock awards that often make up a significant part of a CEO’s pay package.

Eight-figure packages

Three local CEOs had total compensation exceeding $12 million in 2020.

The highest-paid CEO locally was James “Joc” O’Rourke, CEO of Mosaic (NYSE: MOS), a producer and marketer of phosphate-based crop nutrients that relocated its headquarters to Tampa in 2019. O’Rourke had $12.8 million in total pay in 2020, a 31 percent increase from 2019. Most of the increase was from a cash incentive awarded for achieving targets such as improved market position, gains in sales and margins, environmental compliance, capital investments and consistent cash flow.

The CEOs at Jabil (NYSE: JBL) and Raymond James Financial (NYSE: RJF) also had eight-figure pay packages for fiscal 2020. Jabil, a manufacturing services firm, and Raymond James, a financial services company, are two of the largest companies headquartered in St. Petersburg.

Mark Mondello, CEO at Jabil, had total pay of $12.7 million, an 11 percent increase. At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jabil said its top executives would take pay cuts and forego cash bonuses. Even with those cuts, Mondello’s total compensation increased as the value of stock awards went up.

Paul Reilly, chairman and CEO at Raymond James, took a pay cut last year, with his total compensation packaging dropping to $12.4 million, down from $13.1 million in fiscal year 2019. The company posted record revenue in FY 2020, but net income fell.

Hitting goals

The biggest percentage increase in compensation in 2020 went to Michael Benstock, CEO of Superior Group of Companies (Nasdaq: SGC), a Seminole-based company with apparel, promotional products and call center divisions.

Benstock’s total compensation last year was $6.4 million, a 245 percent increase from $1.85 million a year earlier. Nearly all of the increase came from a cash incentive, awarded in 2020 but not paid until February or March of 2021. The bonus was tied to earnings per share and achievement of individual goals.

David Deno, CEO of Bloomin’ Brands (Nasdaq: BLMN), a Tampa-based restaurant company, took the biggest pay cut last year. His pay package dropped to $5.6 million, down 30 percent from just under $8 million in 2019.

David Deno

The casual dining industry was hit hard by shutdowns and capacity restrictions caused by Covid-19, including the concepts Bloomin’ operates — Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

Deno’s base pay dropped as he and other Bloomin’ executives and board members voluntarily suspended their board fees and base pay in the second quarter. The value of his stock awards also dipped. But a cash incentive payout was slightly higher in 2020 than in 2019, as the targets for achieving that bonus shifted from a focus on revenue growth to a focus on improved comparable sales and cost savings.


Two local CEOs were named to their jobs during 2020. Ernie Garateix, named CEO at Heritage Insurance Holdings (NYSE: HRTG), a property insurer in Clearwater, had total compensation of $1.8 million, but most of that came from his earnings as the company’s chief operating officer for the first 10 months of 2020. His predecessor, Bruce Lucas, who stepped down in November, had total compensation of $7.8 million in 2020.

At United Insurance Holdings (Nasdaq: UIH), a property insurer in St. Petersburg, Daniel Peed became chairman and CEO on July 1, succeeding John Forney, the previous CEO and president. Peed is paid only for his work as chairman and director, according to the company’s proxy, receiving a total of $157,250 last year. Forney’s total compensation for 2020 was just over $2 million and included a $500,000 cash payment in lieu of an annual bonus.

Here’s a look at 2020 total compensation for other area CEOs at locally based companies with market capitalization exceeding $100 million.

• Thomas Harrington, Primo Water (NYSE: PRMW) — $7 million, up 70 percent

• David Dunkel, Kforce (Nasdaq: KFRC) — $6.6 million, down 5.8 percent

• Howard Heckes, Masonite (NYSE: DOOR) — $5.9 million, up 109 percent

• Charles Sykes, Sykes Enterprises (Nasdaq: SYKE) — $4.9 million, up 11.4 percent

• William Johnson, Welbilt (NYSE: WBT) — $4.3 million, up 1.2 percent

• Randall “Todd” Jones, Publix Super Markets (stock is owned by employees and is not publicly traded) — $3.6 million, up 32 percent

• Brett McGill, MarineMax (NYSE: HZO) — $3 million, up 29.5 percent

• Samuel Norton, Overseas Shipholding Group (NYSE: OSG) — $2 million, up 1.8 percent

• Charles Goodwin, Apyx (Nasdaq; APYX) — $1.8 million, down 5.8 percent

• Alan Josyln, Oragenics (NYSE: OGEN) — $902,639, up 84.8 percent

• Douglas Marohn, Nicholas Financial (Nasdaq: NICK) — $636,616, up 1.6 percent

Also in the highest-paid CEO lineup is Stu Sjouwerman, founder and CEO of KnowBe4 in Clearwater.

Stu Sjouwerman

Sjouwerman’s 2020 compensation was $831,933, according to a public filing by KnowBe4, a cybersecurity training firm that is expected to raise about $200 million in an initial public offering scheduled for April 21.

Sjouwerman’s pay is a lot less than that of the company’s co-presidents, Krish Venkataraman and Lars Letonoff, whose 2020 compensation was $2.7 million and $1.8 million, respectively.

As of mid-day Tuesday a handful of the larger public companies in the Tampa-St. Pete area had not yet disclosed executive pay for 2020, including HCI Group, BRP Group and Lazydays Holdings.

While CEO pay consistently is in the six-figure range or higher, the average median worker pay for those companies was just under $40,000.

More about that in Wednesday’s report.

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