DETROIT -- Longtime Michigan auto dealer Howard Cooper surprised his employees with $1,000 checks for each year of service after announcing his retirement and selling his Ann Arbor, Mich., dealership this month.
He distributed his “thank you” checks Wednesday after announcing the news on a local radio show. Each of the 89 dealership employees who had been there for more than one month received a check.
The dealership has many long-term employees; the largest check of nearly $47,000 was given to a woman who started work as a bookkeeper when Cooper opened the dealership in 1965, and later became a controller. Cooper said he had thought about the gesture for a long time.
“It’s just the way I’m built, I guess,” he said in an interview. “They made a difference in my life in the efforts they put forth and hopefully I made a difference in theirs.”
Cooper, 83, sold Howard Cooper’s Import Center on Tuesday to Ohio-based Germain Motor Co., which ranks No. 95 on the Automotive News list of the top 125 U.S. dealership groups with new-vehicle retail sales of 7,078 units in 2011.