[Commentary] ©1999-2014 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire™, Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE

Glimpses of Miracle CEOs
"...No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant. Take peace." ... Fra Giovanni, 1513
Reinvestment in markets via employees is best done by overtime-to-training conversion, which is a Timesizing must when targeted, triggered, paced, sized & funded by overtime.  But corporate strategists have not yet picked up on this futuristic practice, so examples from the news don't yet exist.  The primitive, straight reinvest-ment instances below serve simply to show cynics (e.g., *paywatch.org) that the unexpected does happen. Remember Andrew Carnegie and his 1901 Gospel of Wealth.

1/29/2014   And just over three years later -

12/11/2010   And the following year - 7/16/2009   And seven years later - 6/29/2004   Had to wait 6 months for this one - 12/22/2003   And another miracle CEO - things happen in groups - 12/18/2003   Oops, here's a real one at last - 8/19/2003   It's been nearly 3 years since we made an entry on this page, so maybe we should lower our expectations and loosen the qualifications for 'admission.' We haven't seen any articles on CEOs who've been real nice to their employees lately, but we have seen items on CEOs taking no or $1 in pay. Here's one of them -
[Another mega one-time reinvestment in employees, first one this year -]
9/26/2000  Putting his money where his mouth is - Butcher Co. owner splits $18m in sale of business with workers, staff & wire reports via Boston Globe, C1.
Corporate loyalty...is supposed to be dead.... But nobody told Charlie Butcher, or the 325 workers who staff Butcher Co. in Marlborough [Mass.]. Last week, Butcher...said he was splitting $18 million he made from the sale of his family business with workers, many of whom have worked at the company for decades. ...Plant manager Larry Eaton said one worker with 27 years' experience "received something that was well beyond a year's salary." According to published reports, employees received about $1.50 for every hour they worked at the company, or roughly $31,000 for a 10-year veteran. Butcher had hinted two weeks ago, at a farewell barbecue, that some kind of bonus was in the offing. But he didn't let on how much.
Butcher Co., a 120-year-old firm that makes floor care products and cleaning supplies, was sold Sept. 18 to Johnson Wax Professional, a spinoff of family owned S.C. Johnson & Sons of Racine, Wisc....
"People were astounded [by Butcher's generosity]," Eaton said. "We had people...who were really moved to tears. Everyone was walking around with their mouths open." Many employees...plan to use the windfall to pay off bills, make investments, or make down payments on homes or cars. A human resources manager said a few employees have already called her to repay loans against their 401(k) retirement plans.
The firm was founded in 1880 by Butcher's grandfather, Charles Butcher. He was a craftsman who invented a wax for the parquet wooden floors he installed in Boston homes. Charlie Butcher took over the business in 1950 and ran it with his wife, Jane, and their seven children.
Earlier this year, Butcher said he realized he didn't have enough money to invest in needed capital improvements, and looked for a buyer. ...He settled on S.C. Johnson because it is a family-owned business that assured him it would run the business as he did. Butcher, who lives in Boulder, Colo., said it has long been his belief that his employees were what made him and the business a success. "I meant it, and when the opportunity came to put my money where my mouth was, that's exactly what I did," he said.
["Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Sermon on the Mount, Matt. 6:19-21. And, there's going to be an uptick in consumer markets around Marlborough, Mass. for the next few months.]

[Another mega one-time reinvestment in employees -]
10/12/99 Brothers will sell Jordan's Furniture - Berkshire Hathaway to acquire Jordan's, by Kimberly Blanton, Boston Globe, front page.
Eliot and Barry Tatelman, known to Boston-area shoppers for their goofy yet memorable television ads...said yesterday they have agreed to sell their business to Berkshire Hathaway Inc....By selling...they can give their children the freedom to choose any career - not necessarily the family business..\.. Under an agreement with [Hathaway CEO] Warren Buffett, the Tatelman brothers said they would continue to have free rein in running the four-store furniture chain founded by their grandfather during the Roaring 1920s....
The brothers, who in May flew all their employees to Bermuda for a day, plan to share the sale proceeds with the company's 1,200 workers. Each employee will be paid 50¢ for every hour worked at Jordan's - for long-time employees, that could mean bonuses of up to $20,000....
[And so the Tatelman brothers join our Honor Roll of Reinvesting CEOs, listed below in the 10/09 story about Sweden's Ikea. But the recurrence of depressions proves that this kind of once-in-a-blue reinvestment in employees is not nearly enough to grow general markets at a bubble-preempting rate. We need weekly or even daily automatic reinvestment at a rate that would seem colossal by any present-day standards. It is this type of direct automatic reinvestment that is eventually going to enrich all humanity and allow us to get on with a whole roster of problems subtler than - what am I going to eat today, or, how can I get medical attention.]

[Is this the secret of Sweden's recent success, as recounted in yesterday's story (below)? - ]
10/09/99 Ikea workers to get one-day bonuses, Agence France Presse via NYT, B2.
The Swedish furniture chain Ikea will give the day's receipts on Saturday [today] to its 37,500 employees to thank them for their work in the previous year. The windfall is estimated at $61 million.
Each employee in the company's 151 branches around the world should get a bonus equal to about $1,530 at the end of the day, a company spokesman, Anders Eriksson, said. For some workers, like those in China, the bonus will work out to the equivalent of three months' salary.
It is the second time that Ikea has rewarded its employees this way. The previous instance was in 1985. Mr Eriksson said the company's 73-year-old founder, Ingvar Kamprad, was behind the idea. "He wanted to make a gesture before 2000," Mr. Eriksson said.
[Ever notice how much nicer and more generous and far-seeing the founders are than the mediocrities who succeed them?

[Get your hankies. This following is so inspiring it makes Bill Gates with his showy charity approach look bogus, boring, and self-seeking. And we suspect, though involving a fraction of Gates's figures, this smaller-dollar deed will have much greater effect for good, because it's a huge step towards a systemic rather than random (dba "discretionary") approach. You don't need Bill Gates to give money to richrich Harvard to get his name on a library, or to set up a $17B fund (see 9/16 below) to make beggars out of all kinds of gold-digging charities. One imaginative business owner in Mich., with a tiny fraction of Bill Gates' loot, shares riches from the sale of his firm with his own employees. This brings us halfway to a systemic solution to the mind-boggling disparity that so belies our claim to being an "intelligent species" - it's unsoiled by the speculative crapshoot of Wall Street, and untouched by the soaring arbitrariness of Bill Gates' PR "largesse." It's work-related, and therefore more clearly reinvestment than charity.]
9/17/99 For $128 million, a seat in bosses' hall of fame - After sale of firm, owner splits riches, by Sharon Cohen, AP via Boston Globe, A3.
BELLEVILLE, Mich. - When Bob Thomson sold his company for $422 million, he could have chartered a jet, flown off to an island, even bought the island, perhaps. But he had a secret plan. It was only when the sale of Thompson-McCully Co., his road-building firm, was completed in July [we caught this on 7/09 "CRH of Dublin agrees to acquire another U.S. company" tho' we misspelt McCully as Scully] that he let all of his workers know, in a letter.
First, the good news: They would not lose their jobs.
Then, the great news: They would share in the proceeds.
The boss divided up $128 million among his 550 workers, making more than 80 of them millionaires.
"I was flabbergasted," said Rusty Stafford, a manager who opened his envelope at home, with his wife, Tammy. She tearfully said, "'Russ, I think the commas are in the wrong place,'" he recalled. "I looked at it, and kept looking, and thought the next thing I knew Ed McMahon would be knocking at our door."
But the 67-year-old Thompson is casual about his generosity. "It's sharing the good times, that's really all it is," he said.
[And that's something that discretionary charity can't really lay claim to, we're sorry. Taking money from the Microsoft Company of employees, we said COMPANY OF EMPLOYEES, and giving it to Harvard or some other arbitrary destination that has nothing to do with the source of the money, is NOT "SHARING THE MONEY." It's merely trying to justify the series of largely random events that got you that totally beyond-irrational amount of money. We need a systemic, designed solution to the gross and dangerous disparity that we are still opening up in our population with the rich getting richer and the poor poorer. And it's gotta be along the lines of reinvestment, not charity. And that means weekly or even daily reinvestment at COLOSSAL levels relative to the levels we're familiar with today. Can you possibly imagine the MARKETS that would result from such deconcentration??!!]
"I don't think you can read more into it. I'm a proud person. I wanted to go out a winner and I wanted to go out doing the right thing."
If that philosophy seems like a throwback to an earlier era, consider the source: a businessman whose life reads like a Frank Capra script.
Humble guy with a soft spot for Norman Rockwell art. Starts a business in his basement with $3,500, supported by his school-teacher wife. Owns same modest house for 37 years. Expands his asphalt company into road-building juggernaut. Sells it after 40 years, collects nine-figure check. Shares the money with the salespeople and the secretaries, the folks in the gravel pits, the people who hold the road signs.
[Listen up, Bill Gates et ilk. It's the eve of the third millennium, and we want a solution here, and not just a bunch of statues of you.]
"People work exceedingly hard for us," he said. "It's a tough business and this is a demanding company." Translation: 14-hour days, six-day weeks, 99-degree sun, 300-degree asphalt.
[More work-saving technology than ever before in the history of humanity and we're still working 84-hour workweeks just as we did in 1850? If Bob Thompson had known of a systematic way to reinvest and share the wealth all along the path, instead of just at the end, all these "little people" would have had a life over the last 40 years instead of just starting now.]
"We're dependent on people," Thompson said, "so it would just not be fair not to do it. They've allowed me to live the way I want to live."
[Hey, at least he did it now. Unlike, what would you say, 99.9999999% of other business owners? Yet this is the type of tiny margin by which the future often starts.]
Actually, [the way he wanted to live] was pretty modestly. Thompson and his wife, Ellen, have a three-bedroom frame house. She still mops floors and washes windows. His [office is wood-panelled but] has no Persian rugs or oil paintings. Instead, there are photos of their three children and five grandchildren, Rockwell prints, a copy of poet John Donne's meditation that "No man is an island", and a clock with its hands frozen shy of 3 o'clock.
Thompson does not play the stock market, belong to a country club, or collect rich men's toys; the only boat he owns [is] a rowboat. His indulgences are few: He drives a Lincoln, and he and Ellen travel and take in an occasional Broadway show.
Thompson plans to give away much of what's left of the $422 million and plays down what he already has doled out. "I'm not trying to be a big shooter," he said. "A lot of people don't get the opportunity, but would if they could ... This didn't change my life a whole lot when you get right down to it."
But it did change the lives of many hundreds of others, including that of Thompson's 54-year-old administrative manager, Marlene Van Patten, who has worked for the company for 15 years and will cash in a generous annuity certificate upon retirement. (Like other employees, she took Thompson's advice and kept the amount private.)
Thompson had long planned to reward his workers, naming scores of them in his will. But in July, he sold his firm to CRH PLC, a building and construction firm based in Dublin. He says he chose it because of its record of not breaking up companies or firing workers; he will stay on to run the business.
As the sale becomes final, Thompson worked with senior staffers to develop a share-the-proceeds plan. Hourly workers, most of whom have pensions or 401(k) plans, received $2,000 for each year of service; some checks exceeded annual salaries.
Salaried workers, who do not have pensions, were given checks or annuity certificates that they can cash in at age 55 or 62. Those range from $1 million to $2 million each.
In addition, Thompson included some retirees and widows in his plan.
And he paid the taxes, which amounted to $25 million.
[Talk about "innocent as a dove and wise as a serpent"!]
When the checks were distributed one recent Sunday [Sunday? why Sunday?] morning in seven Thompson offices across Michigan, it was as if dozens of co-workers had all bought winning lottery tickets: There were tears and hugs. Some folks were speechless, others chattered away.
[Reminiscent of the 2 great guys who own Kingston Technologies - see our 5/20/99 goodnews story. Actually they're one design step ahead of Thompson in their corporate reinvestment technology because they're doing it all along the line without selling the company. Lincoln Electric does this too by divvying up a huge yearly bonus. But we're thinking even higher frequency and efficiency, and lower drama - revinvesting overtime profits and earnings in training and hiring - every week or even every day.]
Thompson stayed home that day, worried it might be too embarrassing and maybe too emotional. He also told supervisors he did not want to be flooded with phone calls.
Slowly workers have revealed plans for their newfound [riches]:
Furniture. A car. In-vitro fertilization. Braces for a granddaughter. College tuition for a son. Retirement homes.
But Jim McInnis, whose father also worked at the firm, echoes the thoughts of many others who say the checks did not change their work ethic. Many were back on the job at 5:30 a.m. the day after the checks were distributed. "I've always held my head up high working for this company," he said. "Now it's a little bit higher. I'm standing 10 feet tall."
[Fine, but all of us are now needed to share the work, and some people working 84 hour weeks, no matter what they call it, while others can hardly stitch together enough part-time jobs to break even, is increasingly the pattern of the age of endless work-saving technology, and increasingly the root disparity that Timesizing, with its direct automatic reinvestment based on the incidence of overtime, is so far the simplest, most common-sensical, and most complete solution to. We need balance, and the Step One in balancing the wealth is to balance the fact that we're splitting into people with free time and no money and people with money and no free time.]

[Some CEOs still remember something about incentives for others besides themselves - ]
5/20/99 [Kingston Technologies] gives employees [another!] $20m bonus, AP via Bos Globe, C2.
Another $20 million bonus will be handed out to the 1,000 employees at a computer memory-chip firm that boasts a family-style "we're in it together" philosophy. John Tu and David Sun, cofounders of Kingston Technology Co., told employees in memos that the big payoff will come in July.... Tenure and performance determine how much each employee gets.... The Fountain Valley, Calif. company paid a $38 million bonus to employees in 1997 and $20 million in 1998.

[A New England CEO responds remarkably to tragedy.]
date ??/??/?? When *Malden Mills, maker of PolarTec(R) in Lawrence, Mass., burned down, its owner Aaron Feuerstein carried his employees through the crisis financially by keeping them on the payroll for months while rebuilding the plant. To him, it was no big deal - just a non-short-term business decision.

For more details, see our campaign piece alias social-software manual, Timesizing, Not Downsizing, which is available from *Amazon.com online or from *Porter Sq. Books, Boston-Cambridge MA.

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