NICASIO, Calif. -- Lucasfilm Ltd., the company owned by the real father of Luke Skywalker, George W. Lucas Jr., has generated more than $4 billion and a generous $50 million 401(k) plan.
For example, non-union employees can defer as much as 15% of their salaries into the plan, which has a four-year vesting schedule. The company has a dollar-for-dollar match up to 6% of employee contributions; only 19% of companies have such generous matches, according to a Buck Consultants survey released earlier this year.
Lucasfilm's 401(k) is the company's primary pension vehicle. Its small defined benefit plan is available only to union employees.
Lucasfilm executives -- who overhauled the 401(k) plan two years ago and added an optional 401(k) plan for union employees at the end of 1996 -- are not done tweaking the plan, said Darlene Sattel, Lucasfilm's director of human resources.
By the end of the year, executives intend to expand the investment options to 11 or 12 from 9, she said.
One sure thing will be a brokerage window, which, in part, satisfies those employees who asked for a "green" or socially responsible option, Ms. Sattel said.
Without the brokerage window, Lucasfilm executives were faced with defining a green fund: Does it invest only in environmentally friendly companies or should it take other social values into consideration? With the brokerage window, employees can use their own definitions and pick appropriate funds.
Lucasfilm is also considering adding participant investment advice through bundled provider Fidelity Investments, Boston, Ms. Sattel said.
Located on Skywalker Ranch, north of San Francisco, Lucasfilm handles all the finance, marketing and human resources for a constellation of Lucas-owned companies. They include Industrial Light and Magic, established in 1975 to produce the visual effects for "Star Wars," and Skywalker Sound, formed the same year to edit and mix "Star Wars."
Union employees have the option of choosing to participate in the defined benefit plan and the 401(k) plan without the company match or in the 401(k) plan alone with the match. Otherwise, the much smaller union 401(k) plan is identical.
The company added the union 401(k) plan to "meet the changing needs of employees who may not stay with the company for 20 years," she explained.
Close to 95% of Lucasfilm's 1,800 employees participate in the 401(k) plans, Ms. Sattel said. She attributes the high participation rate to the high employer match and a big contingent of college-graduate participants.
Lucasfilm's 401(k) investment menu encompasses Fidelity mutual funds plus some obtained through alliances, she said. Its Fidelity options are retirement money market, growth and income, Blue Chip Growth, Puritan, Magellan, intermediate bond fund and Spartan U.S. Equity Index. Outside funds are PBHG Growth and Janus Worldwide.