-- The co-owner of a cabinet manufacturing company in Iowa is thanking his 800-plus employees for a successful year by offering them a free, weeklong Caribbean cruise.
Employees of Bertch Cabinets in Waterloo, Iowa, learned Dec. 15 that they had met the company's previously announced quality and financial goals and that their free vacation was set for January, the company's co-owner and president, Gary Bertch, told ABC News today.
About 600 employees took Bertch up on the offer and will join him on a chartered flight on Jan. 8 from Waterloo to Miami, where they will board the Victory, a Carnival cruise ship, and spend five days in the Caribbean.
The other 200 or so employees of Bertch Cabinets will get that week off work plus a $900 cash bonus, Bertch said.
"We gave people the option of the cash bonus or the vacation," the company president told ABC News. "We'd love to have everyone come on vacation with us, but know it isn't possible for all for personal reasons, so we wanted to have that alternative available to them."
Those going on the cruise can bring their spouses for free, according to Bertch.
Employee Tony Means told ABC News that he is looking forward to "getting out of the cold weather" and going on cruise-led excursions such as snorkeling and swimming with dolphins.
Means, a marketing associate for the company, said he's also "really excited to hang out with co-workers outside of the work atmosphere."
"This is a really unique opportunity," he said. "We're just all very thankful to the Bertches."
The vacation is just one example of how the the company shows it values its employees, Means said.
"I work right across the hallway from our vice president, Becky Bertch, and 20 feet away from Gary Bertch, and I can tell you that they have an open-door policy, and they always welcome anyone to come in and speak to them any time without a meeting or appointment," he said.
"We all get along pretty well here," Means said. "It's like one big family."