St. John Properties, a Baltimore-based commercial real estate property management and development company, provided a $10 million bonus for its 198 employees to split at its annual holiday party on Dec. 7.
“The [bonus] distribution was based solely on years of service. It had nothing to do with a person's position in the company,” Larry Maykrantz, president of St. John Properties, told Yahoo Finance in a phone interview. “We spent a little bit of time discussing it and believe me, once we made that decision, we realized that was the only fair and equitable way of handling this.”
Individual employee bonuses ranged from $100 to $270,000, according to the company’s LinkedIn post. On average, each employee received about $50,000.
Only five people in the company knew about this bonus surprise. Maykrantz stressed that it was kept “extremely secretive.”
“I steer the boat, but they’re the ones that run the boat,” St. John Properties Founder and Chairman Edward St. John told the holiday party. “They’re the ones that make the boat go. Without the team we are nothing. We are absolutely nothing.”
‘In celebration of that major achievement’
What prompted this hefty bonus was the company’s goal back in 2005 to double the size of its portfolio from 10 million square feet to 20 million square feet, according to Maykrantz. At the time, St. John Properties had no idea how long the goal would take to reach, surmising it would take nearly 40 years.
“It took 14 years,” Maykrantz said. “In celebration of that major achievement, we wanted to find a way to thank and reward of all our employees.”
Once the announcement was made, the employees were visibly overwhelmed with emotion.
“I heard screaming, crying, laughing, hugging, and then within 10 to 15 minutes, everyone came forward to the front podium where Ed St. John and I were standing and started forming lines to shake our hands, to kiss us, to hug us, to thank us,” Maykrantz said.
One employee who has been with the company for 44 years received a $270,000 bonus, while a new employee who started earlier this week received a $100 bonus.
“We thought that would just tell him a little bit about who we are,” Maykrantz said. “He was so happy with that sign of appreciation.”
He described the announcement and night overall as “unbelievable.”
“What occurred that night exceeded my expectations tenfold,” Maykrantz said. “It was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had in my 40 years of business experience. It literally brought tears to my eyes to hear of all the great potential impact of what we did had on all 198 people.”
Olivia is a social media editor for Yahoo Finance.