Boss hands employees a $5.75M “thank you”

Employees at two Michigan factories are enjoying an unexpected windfall, sharing nearly $6 million in bonuses handed out as a surprise by their boss, reports CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds.

“We probably have the best workforce in the nation right here in Western Michigan,” Huizenga Group’s J.C. Huizenga said.

The soft-spoken chairman has a big wallet, and a heart of gold.

“I’m a son of a garbage man, so, I can appreciate people for what they contribute,” he said.

Until last month, his company owned a pair of automation businesses in Western Michigan.

More than 575 employees design and build custom machines and systems for several industries and with annual sales of $170 million, it’s been a success.

“It is a team of people. I’ll take people over assets all day long,” Huizenga said.

Their products sell all over the world.

“It was very appropriate, when we sold the company, that the employees should participate in the wealth we created,” he said.

The profit-sharing checks were delivered in March and added up to $5.75 million. Most employees got checks ranging from $500 to $10,000.

“I felt, one of the nicest gestures of any owner that I’d ever known of,” Dane Systems business unit manager Al Bass said.

Some bonuses were over $50,000; the amounts were based on years of service and job duties.

“The identity of the company is to give, and he encourages us to do that in the latter, to take what we’ve been given and pass it on,” JR Automation buyer Curt Bosch said.

Dane Systems controller Bryan Vondorpowski has two kids in school.

“One’s in college. And this is just the right time. What a blessing to us,” he said.

The new owner wanted to keep the workforce in place, and all of the employees are staying put.

“The new owner was a little concerned that we didn’t make the bonuses too high, because they wanted to make sure that everybody showed up for work the next day,” Huizenga said.

They did.

“Our turnover here is incredibly low. You know, and nobody wants to leave,” JR Automation controller Tim Karsten said.

Huizenga said he shelled out millions because it was simply the right thing to do.

“The gratitude they showed was way beyond my expectation,” Huizenga said.

He said it makes him feel “amazingly good.”

“I would recommend it to anybody. It’s great to be a giver,” he said.

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