The chart "Pumping Up Employee Savings Plans" [ [Article link]] indicates how many companies are adding bells and whistles to their 401(k) plans to boost employee participation. Don Laskowski, CEO of Wood-Mizer Products, in Indianapolis, has chosen a more direct approach: he stuffs his company's fund with cash.

For the first 3% of salary employees contribute, Wood-Mizer, a maker of woodworking equipment, matches every dollar two to one. Above 3%, the match depends on profitability; 1993 was good, so above 3% and below 5%, Wood-Mizer matched employee contributions three to one. That means if an employee saved 5%, the company added 12%. The plan vests immediately. All but 2 of the 344 employees participate. One worker, now 28, who joined Wood-Mizer after high school, has accumulated almost $60,000.

Most companies with 401(k) plans match contributions at some level. About a third contribute 50%; less than 20% match dollar for dollar; very few contribute more. Jeffrey M. Miller, author of The 401(k) Plan Management Handbook (Probus Publishing, Chicago, 1993), says he's never heard of a plan as rich as Wood-Mizer's.

The company instituted the plan eight years ago when employees were overdue for a raise. Concerned that workers weren't saving enough for retirement, Laskowski decided to give them the 401(k) instead. That way they received their "raise" that year tax-free. Today Wood-Mizer's employees also participate in profit sharing and receive raises for gains in job skills.

There's one caveat: the total contributions -- the employer's and the employee's -- to an individual's 401(k) and profit-sharing plans can't exceed 20% of income or $30,000, whichever is less.

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