Philidelphia dealer Gerry Lenfest remembered for $2 million in employee bonuses

Philidelphia dealer Gerry Lenfest remembered for $2 million in employee bonuses

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Jaguar Main Line and Land Rover Main Line in Wayne, Pa., employees are surprised with bonus checks based on years of service. May 2016

Philadelphia media mogul and philanthropist Gerry Lenfest, who died Aug. 5 at 88, also happened to be a car dealer. Indeed, he may have set the record for bonus checks handed out to dealership employees.

Two years ago, Lenfest, a billionaire who owned Jaguar-Land Rover Main Line in Wayne, Pa., shocked his employees with bonus checks based on years of service. Here’s how it went down, according to Michael Smyth, who is now the dealer principal:

It may have been billionaire Gerry Lenfest?s birthday, but he was the one giving the gifts.?Left, employees discover their bonus checks, some for as much as $70,000.

Lenfest told Smyth he set aside $2 million for the employees and suggested the checks be handed out with their regular paychecks. But Smyth wanted to make it special, so the store held a party to celebrate Lenfest’s birthday.

“I had Gerry come in and speak for about 10 minutes. He told everyone they were the best employees, and then he asked them to reach under the seats.” Taped to the bottom were the bonus checks.

“It was tear-jerking to watch people open envelopes containing as much as $70,000 in bonuses. Some of the checks were more than people make in a year,” Smyth recalled.

Lenfest made his fortune in cable television. He donated more than $1 billion, mostly to a variety of Philadelphia area charities.

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