Publisher's Notes: Your profits...

... to their pockets
Nicole Harris
January 1, 2009

Just a little incredulity was in order when Merrill Lynch’s John Thain asked for a $10 million bonus at the end of 2008. As all of us contribute to that company’s $10 billion bailout—along with the rest of Wall Street and possibly the auto industry—we look out across the next 12 months with precautionary belt-tightening.

So, it was gratifying to learn that several glass company owners were still in a position to share profits with their employees. Bonuses are not always tied to a traditional year-end gift. These days, they correspond to year-end profitability. Here are some examples gleaned from e-mail conversations with industry execs:

“We do not give “Christmas” bonuses. We declare a bonus, if the company has been profitable, at fiscal year-end. We then pay this out in three-to-four installments at random times. I found that 'Christmas' bonuses were expected and not treated as a bonus; however, we make sure one of the payments occurs after Thanksgiving. We will not eliminate the bonus program as long as we are profitable, but the amount may be reduced, or increased, depending on our profitability.”

“We do our bonuses in June, the end of our fiscal year, based on profit and employee performance. We do give ‘Christmas gifts’ in December. For the last two years, we’ve given a $50 American Express gift card to every employee. A few top managers receive a larger amount. We also take our top managers and their spouses out for a nice dinner, as a thank you for their contributions and support. We also give a little gift to the spouses to thank them for supporting him/her and thus the company during the year. This is always a fun evening and builds camaraderie within our leadership group.”

“I usually make one bonus payment as a percentage of net profit in February after all financials are in. Dollar amounts are based on my employees’ pay for the past year, so if an hourly employee’s gross wage was 4.67 percent of total payroll, he receives 4.67 percent of the total bonus. My high-performing employees get a little on top of that, and managers have a separate bonus system.”

“My partner and I have always, except for once, given monetary Christmas gifts to employees who have meritoriously served our company and our clients. We have a Christmas party with more than 90 door prizes provided by loyal vendors, where we pass out the ‘Christmas gift’ and have each associate tell us something about themselves. It's fun, educational and sometimes very heart-warming.”

“We are not giving bonuses this year. Not that we had a bad year; in fact, it was much better than the year before. Looking ahead, we want to be in as strong a position as possible to weather whatever comes in 2009 and beyond. I told our employees this and they took it well. I think most were expecting it.”

At press time, at least one glass company owner was still considering his options:

“We stopped doing a Christmas bonus and are doing—or were doing—a bonus on profit. I am considering eliminating that this year in an effort to conserve cash. We are fortunate that we still have work and have only reduced our staff by one. In an environment where many people are losing their jobs, I think my employees will be understanding. My old employer is filing for bankruptcy, and we have been picking up clients as a result. I think there will be more of this before it’s over.”

“More of this before it’s over” is a shared sentiment heading into this new year. We at Glass Magazine and the National Glass Association are also in belt-tightening mode. For this first issue of 2009, we’ve focused on forecast content almost exclusively. We’ve also made a few design changes based on subscriber feedback, introduced the "Closer look" department, and added a fourth industry segment coverage: fabrication.

My toast to a new year stays constant: Here’s to a new year of profits and bonuses!



Nicole Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine. Write her at