Donald Friese is a self-made man. He grew up in an orphanage, joined the army and worked his way up through the ranks of a California industrial glazing company, which he sold in 2015 for more than a billion dollars. And when he made that sale, he gave all of his workers a bonus, including two longtime employees who each received $1 million dollars.
Friese has long kept quiet about this astonishing act of altruism. It was only when he was profiled by the Los Angeles Times that he mentioned what he had done. Friese sold his glazing business (think window frames and hinges for glass shower doors) to an Irish conglomerate in 2015.
He told the LA Times he used more than $86 million of that sale to give bonuses to nearly 1,400 employees who had been with his company for more than a year. For the numerically disinclined, that’s more than $60,000 per person.
But Friese remembers two workers in particular who had run warehouses for the company over a long period of time. He called them into his office, told them he had sold the company and gave them each a $1 million bonus.
“And I said, ‘I don’t think thank you is good enough,’ and gave each of them $1 million. We were all crying,” Friese told the LA Times. “There are some people who you know do more for you than is required. These guys are those kinds of guys.”
Though Friese is not only a billionaire but a 76-year-old man, he still goes into work six days a week he’s still the chief executive of C.R. Lawrence, the company he sold two years ago.
“This is my life,” he said. “There’s nothing like being successful in what you do. It really is very satisfying. I’m going to work as long as I can.”