Usually when private equity comes in, line workers and office managers feel a sense of dread. Private-equity firms are known for slashing headcount and picking apart business lines.
But KKR just made a lot of hourly employees, including factory staff and truck drivers, very happy.
The private investor, with roughly $471 billion in assets under management, just sold C.H.I Overhead Doors to Nucor Corporation for $3 billion this month. It’s a significant payout for KKR, which will make 10 times the equity it invested in the door manufacturer back in 2015. But it’s a mega payday for C.H.I’s workforce, who effectively held equity in the company.
Workers lined up to collect their pay packets — which paid hourly workers an average of $175,000 — when KKR completed the sale of C.H.I to Nucor.
The idea to offer equity to staff across C.H.I’s organizational chart stemmed from Pete Stavros, the co-head of US private equity at KKR. He told CNBC that his dad was a construction worker for 45 years who loved his job but couldn’t create wealth on an hourly wage.
It’s a common problem for many Americans living paycheck to paycheck. Stavros said he first contemplated the idea to introduce equity-linked initiatives to broader workforces when he was in business school.
Under Stavros’ watch, KKR has awarded billions of dollars in total equity value to over 45,000 non-senior employees across 25 KKR-backed companies. This strategy started with KKR’s industrials companies, like C.H.I, a company spokesperson told Insider.
And if C.H.I’s staff reactions are anything to go by, this incentive is sure to improve the lives of employees at many KKR-backed companies — from C-suite execs to office managers.
Stavros also helped launch Ownership Works, a nonprofit that partners with companies and investment firms to provide employees with strategies to build wealth.
Since joining KKR in 2005, Stavros has led the firm’s investments in data company Nielsen and industrials giant Gardner Denver / Ingersoll Rand, among others.
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