09/07/2012 05:44 pm ET Updated Sep 07, 2012

Howard Cooper, Retiring Ann Arbor Car Dealer, Gives Employees $1,000 For Every Year They Worked For Him

Back in April, when Howard Cooper of Ann Arbor, Mich., announced he’d be selling the car dealership he’d owned for 47 years, employees were no doubt relieved to learn that the deal stipulated all 89 of them would keep their jobs. Little did they know that Cooper had a whole lot more in mind.

This week, Cooper, 83, handed out checks to each of his employees amounting to $1,000 for each year they’ve worked at his dealership, Howard Cooper Import Center, reports. Some of the gifts will be substantial; Mechanic Bob Jenkins has worked there for 26 years, bookkeeper Sandy Reagan for 46.

“I wanted to thank my employees and that was a way I could do it,” Cooper told “I hope it makes a difference in their lives like they have made in mine.”

In some cases, the checks represent more money than employees have ever had in their bank accounts, according to Jenkins, the mechanic, plans to put his $26,000 check toward raising his two sons, aged 5 and 9.

As the dealership's general manager George Davis told Michigan Radio, that kind generosity on the part of an executive is rare, especially in a business climate where CEOs of major corporations themselves frequently take home severance packages worth more than $100 million. In 2011 alone, Simon Property Group CEO David Simon made what it would take a worker earning the median U.S. wage 3,489 years to earn.

Of course, many CEOs are compensated more reasonably, such as those who request the symbolic salary of just $1 annually. (Of course that doesn’t include the often millions of dollars worth of company stock they retain.)

But there are some bosses out there like Cooper -- you just have to go abroad to find them. Australian CEO Ken Grenda gave around $415 million of his bonus money to employees, in some cases over $100,000 to individuals, Australia’s ABC reports. Meanwhile, CEO Yang Yuanqing of China’s Lenovo distributed $3 million worth of his bonus compensation to 10,000 lower-level employees, Forbes reports (see video below).

And Cooper isn't entirely alone in the United States. FullContact API CEO Bart Lorang, for example, gives employees $7,500 to go on vacation, ABC News reports, but only if they agree to do no work whatsoever while they're out of the office.

(Hat tip: The Billfold)