'I'm still in shock': Company awards employees with $10 million in bonuses

On average, people received $50,000 from the real estate development company.

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/ Source: Today
By Rachel Paula Abrahamson

One CEO is going to be receiving a lot of thank-you notes this holiday.

St. John Properties announced a surprise $10 million bonus for its 198 employees on Saturday at their annual holiday party in Baltimore, Maryland. The amount each person received was based on tenure, but the average bonus worked out to be roughly $50,000, the company told TODAY.

One employee, maintenance technician Stanley Ches, will deposit a check for more than $200,000, a spokesman said.

"I was in shock. I'm still in shock," Ches, who started at the real estate development company in 1981, told TODAY in a phone interview. "Everybody was shaking me down and giving me hugs."

“Grown men were crying,” company chairman Edward St. John told TODAY. “It was an unbelievable moment. There’s no question.”

Danielle Valenzia, who has worked in accounts payable for more than 18 years, was overwhelmed with emotion when she opened her red envelope.

“My first reaction was just tears of joy,” Valenzia, 42, said. “It validates our hard work and the time we put in every day. It’s definitely gonna be a magical Christmas.”

Danielle Valenzia said she "cried tears of joy" after opening a red envelope containing her bonus.Courtesy of St. John Properties

Valenzia plans to purchase a new Mercedes, but she will also pay it forward.

“I’m a giver and I like to share the love,” the mother of five explained.

Accounting manager Ann Moyers, 75, joked that she just received a text from her nephew that read, "I would like to apply for a job!"

Bonuses will be paid out in January, a spokesperson said. They were awarded after St. John Properties hit its goal of developing 20 million square feet in eight states.

"I steer the boat but they're the ones that run the boat, they're the ones that make the boat go," St. John declared in a video that played after he made the announcement. "Without the team, we are nothing, we are absolutely nothing."