Tuesday, April 27, 2010

After selling his company to Massey, coal boss 'pays it forward' in big bonuses to employees

Several Central Appalachian communities recently received a sort of economic stimulus, but it wasn't from the government. Richard Gilliam, principal shareholder and co-owner of Black Mountain Resources, passed on roughly $80 million from the $1 billion sale of his coal mining company to Massey Energy to the employees in the form of cash bonuses and retirement-fund investments, report Faith Clark of the Tri City News in Cumberland, Ky. Each employee got a bonus of $4,300 for each year of work at the company and a 401-K contribution proportionate to the employee's 2009 earnings.

"I wasn’t expecting that much money, and sure wasn’t expecting that much in my 401. In fact, I wasn’t expecting anything from the sale of Black Mountain Resources, except hopefully to stay employed by Massey," one employee who asked to remain anonymous told Clark. "I’m just a coal miner with a wife and kids, trying to make a living. You sometimes see bonuses given to the upper echelon of employees, but never to every single person like this. I am just speechless at the company’s generosity. I had never heard of anything like this before, anywhere. It was a pretty amazing gesture by Richard, and my family is thankful. Just very thankful."

The sale affected 1,200 employees in Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia, where the company is known as Cumberland Resources. Local banks were forced to place multiple-day holds on the bonus checks because they were not prepared to handle so much money, Clark reports. "Richard Gilliam’s display of generosity is unprecedented in the business world," Ross Kegan, BMR's vice president of operations, told Clark. "Coal operators are sometimes accused of taking the money and the coal out of the hills and leaving. Richard Gilliam has set a legacy of the opposite by paying it forward." (Read more)

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