Entrepreneurial Stewardship: Employees Share Millions After Company Sold
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Entrepreneurial Stewardship: Employees Share Millions After Company Sold

J.C. Huizenga Photo from Mlive

Employees of the Huizenga Automation Group got a great surprise earlier this week. According to Mlive, after selling the company, owner J.C. Huizenga gave away $5.75 million in bonuses to his employees at two manufacturing companies that were part of the Automation Group. Huizenga acknowledged that his success was due to the work of his employees so he wanted to share his profits with them: “We all worked together at J.R. Automation and Dane Systems” and the companies “had amazing success. It was the right thing to share with everybody.” Bonuses were based on years of service and responsibilities:

The bonuses ranged from $500 for new employees to more than $50,000 for those who had worked at the company the longest, Huizenga told MLive and The Grand Rapids Press…

“It was our intention that everybody from the latest hire to those who were there the longest all participated so everyone got something,” said Huizenga, adding that he was seeking fairness.

Around $5 million was split up among 500 employees at J.R. Automation, while 70 employees at Dane Systems received around $750,000.

Huizenga did a similar thing ten years ago when he sold American Litho to a Tokyo-based firm. He gave bonuses to his employees as well as big party. He joked that he wasn’t sure if he would throw a party for J.R. Automation and Dane Systems employees, because he thought “everybody wanted a bonus more than parties.”

Huizenga is one of several generous West Michigan business owners:

In 1999, entrepreneur Bob Thompson gave his 550 employees across Michigan bonuses and annuities ranging in value from $200 to more than $1 million following the sale of Grand Rapids Asphalt and its parent company, Belleville-based Thompson-McCully…

That same year, workers at Lescoa Inc. in Grand Rapids received bonuses when company founder Leslie E. Tassell sold the auto supplier to American Bumper & Manufacturing Co. of Ionia…

Three years earlier in 1996, Elsa Prince made headlines when she gave away millions after she sold Holland’s Prince Corp. to Johnson Controls Inc. Some workers reportedly garnered more than $10,000.

Both J.C. Huizenga and Elsa Prince Broekhuizen serve on the board of the Acton Institute.

Huizenga did not intend to make a social statement by the gesture, he did it because it was “the right thing for our employees. Our employees are amazing people.” He acknowledges that a company is more than a building and machinery and HR forms, a company is people. “That’s really what a company is,” He told Mlive. “It’s not a collection of assets, it’s a team of people.”