Bob Saelinger was No. 7 of 10. His father was born in the house where they all grew up, up the holler in rural eastern Campbell County, Kentucky. They had a 200-odd-acre dairy/produce/everything farm across the Ohio from old River Downs.
Most everything on the Saelinger table, the Saelingers tended and harvested. They worked the fields and the orchards, butchered their own hogs and steers, raised chickens, collected eggs, churned their own butter. Hard work was second nature. Bob looks back on those years as a remarkably rich, formative time – a stream of memories from an all-but-vanished America.
One enduring memory, at least one, is the Saelinger egg route. Their dad ran an egg route every Saturday. They would pack the fresh harvest, country hams, sausage, sauerkraut, eggs, butter and whatever else they had to sell in the big truck and take two of the kids on the day-long route to Ft. Thomas and Newport. One kid would help with regular customers. The other was assigned to do cold calls. “That’s how you learned about business, how to approach people, how to get them to buy your stuff. You learned to smile and deal with people, starting at age 6.”
Bob and his brothers would be up at 5 a.m. to help with the morning milking. After school, one of his jobs was to bring the cows back to the barn for the evening milking. The farm was not quite all vertical hills and ridge tops, but nearly. That’s what got him started, chasing Holsteins up and down those hills.
He ran track at Covington Latin and kept his running up through Xavier, law school in Lexington and tax school in Boston where he only spectated The Boston Marathon. He was running shorter races when he signed on with Graydon. “Nothing serious,” he says, quite earnestly.
He ran his first marathon, the 1994 New York City Marathon, through an outreach called Team in Training to benefit the Leukemia Society. Not quite a quarter century later, Bob had done 26 marathons in all. Among them: two New York Cities, four Chicago’s, two Twin Cities, a trough of Flying Pigs, and six times in the big daddy - Boston.
Bob does have one DNF – marathon-ese for “did not finish.” It was mile 22 in the Louisville Marathon. “My foot blew up. The tendon that holds up your arch – the plantar fascia – was on fire. It killed me to quit.”
He downplays the running. “It’s just something I do, mostly to keep the mind clear.” But he definitely sees the connection between his running and his work. “It’s about toeing up to the line, dogged to go the distance, and achieving a result that’s fulfilling for the client. Because that’s where I find fulfillment.”
These are the values Bob brings to his practice. He is concerned with getting it right.
“I love our firm. It’s always client first. We don’t overdo. We don’t throw lawyers at an issue for the sake of keeping lawyers busy. I look at it, and if I need someone else, we team up.”
“We’re lean in a good way. Not because we’re stingy, but because we know how to get the job done with what we have. It’s the kind of thing you learn on an egg route.”
Bob is a partner and serves on the firm’s Executive Committee.
His practice focuses on design, structure, and implementation of all types of employee benefits plan and executive compensation programs, as well as trouble shooting when controversies, operational errors, and government audits (IRS, DOL) arise. Plan types include: pension, 401(k), profit sharing; ESOPs; nonqualified deferred compensation; equity-based incentives (phantom stock, stock options, SARs); short/long-term performance bonuses; stay/retention; group medical/life/disability/long term care; cafeteria; wellness; medical/dental/dependent care spending accounts; HSAs.
Bob assists clients with Affordable Care Act complexities, HIPAA privacy and security, and employer withdrawal liability under union-sponsored pension plans. He addresses/helps negotiate the benefits/compensation points in business transactions. With a practical approach and in-depth knowledge and experience in ERISA/tax/HR areas, he relishes helping clients creatively position benefit plans and compensation vehicles to recruit and retain talent (and effect severances).
Based on the grading and comments of his peers, Bob is recognized with an AV Rating, the highest rating given to lawyers by Martindale-Hubbell. He has also been selected by his peers each year for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America for his work in Employee Benefits/ERISA Law.