Retiring Boss Surprises Employees With Big 'Thank You' Checks

The employees of Howard Cooper Import Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., are still buzzing about their boss' farewell gesture, fat bonus checks worth thousands of dollars each.

"Oh it was totally a surprise to everyone," Howard Cooper's employee Sandy Reagan told ABC News.

Howard Cooper, 83, has owned his car dealership for 47 years, but is now retiring. Cooper sold the company to Ohio-based Germain Motor Company last April, but before the business transaction was complete, he wanted to make sure all 89 of his employees knew how much he appreciated their efforts.

So Cooper came up with a "thank you" gesture. He surprised each employee last Wednesday with a check for $1,000 for each year of service they had put into working for him.

"I wanted to thank my employees and that was a way I could do it. I hope it makes a difference in their lives like they have made in mine," Cooper told

"I was excited. I was happy he did it for everyone. Not just the managers, but he did it for everybody. And I thought was the best part," said Reagan, who has been with the company for 46 and a half years.

Reagan was actually in on the surprise. Despite starting at the company in 1966 as a bookkeeper, she is now the controller, and was put in charge of the top secret task to print all of the employees' checks in advance of Cooper's big reveal.

"There are good stories here. Some people are still in shock. They didn't see it coming," Reagan said.

Cooper's employees are still buzzing about their unexpected bonuses, but Reagan said she's been so busy she only knows about several people's plans for their money.

"I know one person was going to school at night because they only had 17 more hours to graduate from college. So he took the money and left to finish up his degree," said Reagan.

When Cooper sold his dealership, one stipulation in the deal for the winning bidder was to keep on all of his employees.

"My employees are very important to me and the reason for my success. I know of a couple of buyers who would have paid more, but taking care of my employees was important to me," he when the deal was announced in April.