David Farr, Chairman and CEO of Emerson Electric


David Farr is the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Emerson Electric, a global manufacturing company that is on the Fortune 500 list and headquartered in Ferguson, Missouri. In 2014, Farr made $9.5 million, as opposed to Ferguson’s median household income of $36,645. He is a public proponent of offshoring jobs; in 2009, he told analysts in Chicago that President Obama’s ideas for environmental, healthcare, and labor reform would “destroy” U.S. manufacturing, claiming he would not hire anyone in the United States if the country had stronger labor regulations. Only 25% of Emerson’s 130,000 manufacturing jobs are in the U.S. and Canada. Farr is also an outspoken Republican; in 2011, he sent a letter to Emerson’s workforce urging them to attend a fundraiser for notorious right-winger Representative Todd Aiken.

Emerson Electric's headquarters are in Ferguson at 8000 W Florissant Avenue, just minutes from where last summer's sustained protests occurred. Four days before Michael Brown was murdered, Emerson announced third-quarter sales of $6.3 billion. But despite the presence of this profitable Fortune 500 company, Ferguson is in a revenue crisis--a crisis local officials have tried to manage by creating a system of traffic tickets and debtors prisons to extract millions of dollars from its poorest residents.  But what causes this budget crisis and why does it persist? Part of the answer lies in St. Louis County's lenient taxation polices for corporations, including its "rock bottom assessment value" of the Emerson campus at only $15 million. Last year, "Ferguson received an estimated $68,000 in property taxes from the corporate headquarters that occupies 152 acres of its tax base—not even enough to pay the municipal judge and his clerk to hand out the fines and sign the arrest warrants." This under-taxation severely limits the tax money Emerson contributes to the Ferguson-Florissant district's struggling schools and St. Louis county in general. 

Farr's Relationships:

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Key Info:

 Total Pay (2014): $9.5 million

Total Pay (2013): $25.3 million
Key relationships: Civic Progress, Missouri Botanical Gardens, United Way of Greater St. Louis, The MUNY. 
About Emerson Electric: Emerson Electric is a global manufacturing company headquartered in Ferguson, MO. It makes familiar equipment, such as garbage disposers and power tools, as well as highly technical equipment including electronic controls for industrial automation machines, climate control mechanisms for server farms that power the internet, etc. Emerson is number 121 on the Fortune 500 list. Emerson's headquarters are just minutes away from where Michael Brown was murdered, prompting some people to highlight Emerson's role in perpetuating economic inequity and structural racism in the region. 
Corporate Headquarters: 8000 W Florissant Ave, St. Louis, MO 63136
More about David Farr: 
  • Farr is a major proponent of offshoring jobs. In 2009, he told analysts in Chicago that President Obama’s ideas for environmental, health, care, and labor reform would “destroy” U.S. manufacturing. He said, “What do you think I’m going to do? I’m not going to hire anybody in the United States. I’m moving.”
  • Emerson employs 130,000 people at 230 manufacturing centers across the world. Only 33,000 of these people work in the U.S. and Canada. Ferguson’s unemployment rate has more than doubled in recent years, from less than 5% in 2000 to over 13% in 2010-2012. 
  • In 2011, Farr sent a letter to his company’s workforce urging them to attend a fundraiser for notorious Republican Representative Todd Aiken. The suggested donation was $1000, but those willing to give $5000 were invited to “an intimate dinner event” with Akin, Farr, and Farr’s wife, Lelia.