Company Shares $18M With Workers

Tuesday, September 26th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) — Many bosses say they value their employees.

Charlie Butcher backed up his words last week with a grand gesture, distributing $18 million among 325 workers after selling the floor-care products and cleaning supplies company his family had owned for 120 years.

``It was like Christmas on Tuesday,'' said Cindy Hanam, human resources manager of The Butcher Co., which is headquartered in Marlboro, Mass.

``Brawny men you would never think would drop a tear were crying,'' said Patricia Pazzaneze, 69, a receptionist. ``Charlie always told us he loved us, and it wasn't phony.''

The bonuses were handed out last Tuesday, just one day after the business was sold to Johnson Wax Professional, a spin-off of S.C. Johnson & Sons of Racine, Wisc.

The Butcher Co. also has plants in Alsip, Ill., and Compton, Calif. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Butcher hinted at a recent farewell barbecue that some kind of bonus was in the offing. But he didn't let on how much.

Individual workers would not say how much they were paid. But plant manager Larry Eaton said one worker with 27 years' experience ``received something that was well beyond a year's salary and more.''

``People were astounded,'' he said. ``Everyone was walking around with their mouths open.''

Many employees said they plan to use the windfall to pay off bills, make investments, or make down payments on homes or cars. Hanam said a few employees have already called her to repay loans against their 401(k) retirement plans.

The firm was founded in 1880 by Charlie Butcher's grandfather, Charles Butcher. He was a craftsman who invented a wax for the parquet wooden floors he installed in Boston homes.

The grandson took over the business in 1950 and ran it with his wife, Jane, and their seven children.

Earlier this year, Butcher realized he did not have enough money to invest in needed capital improvements, and looked for a buyer. He said he settled on S.C. Johnson because it is a family-owned business.

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,'' he said, ``and when the opportunity came to put my money where my mouth was, that's exactly what I did.''