Defying all corporate mores, CEO sends 800 workers on Caribbean cruise

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A Chamber of Commerce investigation led to a shocking discovery: Contrary to prevailing wisdom, It is not illegal to be nice to your workers. Wikimedia

Our remarkable story begins in an enchanted land known as Waterloo, Iowa, not far from Minnesota's southern border. 

It is here that in 1977 Gary Bertch started building cabinets in a barn. It was a quaint time, when business owners valued their workers. But that would soon change. 

By the 1980s, most CEOs decided that by lowering qaulity and customer service, while simultaneously screwing their employees, they could hog all the money for themselves, which was way funner. So they began to view their workers as whiners, ingrates, and moochers, nothing more than regrettable items on their expense ledger. 

But no one sent the memo to Gary. So he continued to practice the childhood lessons of sharing and kindness.  

By the late '80s, his company had become successful. After a particularly good year, Gary would shut down Bertch Cabinet and take all his employees on cruises to places like Aculpoco and Hawaii.

The Chamber of Commerce launched an investigation, accusing Gary of illegal acts of decency. This led to a shocking discovery: Contrary to prevailing wisdom, it is not unlawful to be nice to your workers.

There was nothing the Chamber could do except stomp its feet and watch Schindler's List to scout new management techniques.  

Gary's Reign of Kindness would continue until 2008, when the greed of his fellow CEOs finally crashed the economy. Bertch Cabinet, which at one point employed 1,000, would see its ranks fall to 600 as orders for new homes and businesses collapsed. 

Yet Gary pressed on. It would take eight years, but he gradually righted the ship. 

On January 8, he will reward his employees again. Gary's chartered four planes to fly 800-plus workers to Miami, where they'll stay in a five-star hotel before embarking on a Caribbean cruise. 

He only has one concern remaining: that the Carnival ship brings a sufficient supply of brewskies. 

"The first time we had them we ran them out of beer," he told the Waterloo Courier. "We've learned they stocked extra for our trip this time so we don't run out." 

 


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