Small Company Gives Employees Big Payout

Laurence Spungen poses with one of his favorite employees. CBS

If you're a selfish, overpaid CEO currently running your company into the ground, pay attention to this story. It might just save your soul.

PEER Bearing is an international, $100 million-a-year company headquartered near Chicago. When its executives travel, they don't need Congress to tell them how to travel, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports.

The executives joke that they're VIPs at Super 8 Motels.

PEER has been a family-owned company since 1941. Laurence Spungen, his wife Florence and their children have really made a ball out of the bearing business. Laurence especially seems to enjoy people much more than profits.

He says things to his employees like, "You're one of my favorite guys here" and "He's my buddy. I love this guy."

When was the last time you said this about your company president?

"They treat us like one member of their family," one worker said.

To that end, not long ago, a memo went out to all of PEER Bearing - all 230 employees. The Spungens had accepted an offer to sell the company and everyone was to gather in the cafeteria.

The workers didn't know what to expect. "I had no idea it was coming. No clue," one said. But they knew it didn't sound good. Some were afraid to lose their jobs.

Fortunately, the new owners had agreed to keep everyone. No one got a pink slip.

Instead, everyone got a white envelope.

"And when I opened it up I got a big surprise in my life," one worker said.

Inside were golden parachutes - in the form of whopping bonus checks - for everyone.

One employee, Joe, got $100,000 split into two payments. Amounts varied depending on how long the worker had been with the company - but everybody got something. In all, the Spungens gave our $6.6 million - about a fifth of the total proceeds from the sale.

"So I can go home at night and be proud of what we as a family have done," Glenn Spungen said.

Certainly the Spungens deserve to sleep well - even if it is at a Super 8.
  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.

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