When a Maryland real estate company handed out red envelopes to employees at the annual holiday party on Saturday, no one knew what to expect.
So when the 198 employees of St. John Properties received surprise bonuses averaging $50,000, it was a holiday miracle that most hadn’t seen coming. All bonuses totaled approximately $10 million.
“When I opened the envelope, I was totally in disbelief,” Stephanie Ridgway, the company’s assistant project manager, told CNN.
“I couldn’t believe I saw what I saw. I don’t even have words to properly describe how I felt, it was just amazing and unbelievable. I am still in shock. It is definitely life changing.
St. John Properties Chairman Lawrence Maykrantz told CNN the company has achieved a major goal of developing 20 million square feet in real estate, doubling the amount in 14 years.
“We wanted to do something to thank all of our employees for helping us achieve our goal, and we wanted to do something big,” Maykrantz told CNN.
Each employee received money according to the number of years he worked in the company. The smallest amount, $100, was for an employee who had just been hired and hadn’t even started in the company yet. The biggest bonus was $270,000.
“It was truly one of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed in my life. Everyone was overwhelmed with emotions. They were screaming, crying, laughing, hugging,” Maykrantz said.
“People lined up to hug, kiss and shake our hands and they told us story after story what they were going to use their bonuses for. People are out of debt, paying off credit cards, mortgages, tuition, and student loans.
Ridgway, 37 – a 14-year-old employee – said she would use the bonus for her children’s college funds.
“I’m looking into possible investments and home improvements, but the majority of the money is going into my kids’ future,” Ridgway said.
For the first time in company history, St. John Properties, which has eight different locations, has flown in all of its employees and their out-of-state guests and covered all travel expenses. air and hotel transportation for the party.
“We are so proud of our employees. They are the foundation and reason for the success of our business. And we wanted a big way to thank them and I think we managed to do that,” Maykrantz said.