Michigan business hands out $4 million in Christmas bonuses to workers

As General Motors and Ford prepare to cut jobs, a western Michigan family-owned business, FloraCraft, is giving tens of thousands of dollars to each of its full-time employees.

In fact, since its founding in 1946, FloraCraft in Ludington has never even had a layoff.

On Friday, owner Lee Schoenherr told his 200 employees he will share nearly $4 million with the full-time workers. The amounts will vary based on longevity, but the average bonus will be about $20,000 per worker, with the first installment to be made by the end of 2019.

Surprised employees broke into applause and cheers, with many lining up to thank Schoenherr personally, the company said in a statement.

“It was very humbling. I started crying — it was huge for him to do something like that for everybody,” said Mary Overla, an assistant production supervisor at FloraCraft, which makes foam products for the craft and floral industries. It supplies the products to Walmart, Amazon, Michaels, JOANN, Hobby Lobby and retailers across 50 states and 17 countries.

Each gift will be based on longevity of service and shared in two ways: a cash bonus and a special contribution to the employee’s 401(k) retirement account.

Workers get a second cash bonus and special bonus 401(k) retirement gift by the end of March 2020. Because of federal laws governing employer contributions to retirement programs, FloraCraft is required to make the contributions over two calendar years in order to maximize Schoenherr’s gift, a company spokesman said.

The average employee tenure at FloraCraft is nine years. While the amounts will vary, the average gift will top $20,000 in combined cash bonuses and 401(k) contributions. Some families are second- and third-generation employees, and gifts to employees with more than 40 years of service will top $60,000.

“My wife, Joan, and I are blessed in so many ways. We want to share these blessings with the men and women whose energy, passion and loyalty inspire us every day,” Schoenherr said. “A few years ago, I began thinking that I would like to do something more targeted for our employees, who really are the heart and soul of FloraCraft.”

“While many business owners provide bonuses to employees after selling their company, Mr. Schoenherr wants to thank his team for their role in building the FloraCraft brand and business now,” explained CEO Eric Erwin.

Schoenherr said the gift is not a signal that he’s selling. “Don’t think this means I’m exiting or selling the business — I love what I do and am committed to maintaining the independence of FloraCraft,” he said.

Schoenherr bought the business from his uncle, who founded it after World War II.

17 December 2018 |Jamie L. LaReauDetroit Free Press

https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2018/12/17/michigan-firm-christmas-bonuses/2336249002/