By State Representative, Leon D. Young
In the early morning hours of November 17, 2013, Bruce Kroll received word that all entrepreneurs dread hearing, “your business establishment has caught on fire.”
Kroll, the owner of the local Culver’s franchise in Platteville, Wisconsin, was reduced to watching a fire destroy his livelihood for the past 19 years.
The structural damage to his property was extensive.
According to the Platteville Fire Department, an estimated $500,000 in all.
More important, it left 40 employees wondering if they still had a job. But, after assessing the total damage to his store, Kroll made the decision to rebuild.
Initially, he thought it would take roughly three to four months for construction to begin. However, it reality it took six-months for the new store to be completed.
At first glance, this would seem to be a run-of-the-mill story of an unfortunate fire that threatened the local economy of a small Wisconsin town.
However, the real intrigue of this particular story was only about to unfold.
Bruce Kroll, a handson owner who worked in the restaurant alongside his employees, was fully aware of the important role that his workers play.
For that reason, he made the decision to continue paying the 40 employees for six months while the restaurant was being rebuilt.
True enough, his insurance paid the employee payroll for the first 60 days; however, Kroll actually paid the remaining four months of paychecks, almost $144,000, out of his own pocket.
It should be noted that this wasn’t a completely magnanimous act.
Kroll did make one request of his employees during the six-month period the restaurant was closed.
He wanted them to volunteer their time to help the community.
His employees responded in-kind, by performing a sundry of volunteer activities all for the greater good of the community in which they live.
This is truly a remarkable and heart-warming story, especially in this day and age.
When one considers that workers, for the most part, find themselves under constant siege: struggling to maintain their collective bargaining rights; while fighting to raise the minimum wage to a respectable level.
Bruce Kroll is clearly a man who is in business for the long-haul, and not just money.
Through his unselfish act, he has shown that he values and cares deeply about the people who help make his business a success.
This is a sound and compassionate business approach that Walmart, McDonald’s and corporate America all should emulate.