In the otherwise-sleepy town of Arthur, Illinois, US, this week brought a life-changing surprise for hundreds of workers at locally based garage-door maker, C.H.I. Overhead Door. The company's private equity owner, KKR, is selling the company to steel manufacturer Nucor in a $3 billion deal. The sale is generating a massive windfall for both the firm and -- uniquely -- C.H.I.'s employees, from truck drivers to factory workers. On average, hourly workers will receive $175,000 in a payout, with the most-tenured earning more than $750,000 as a result of the sale. The idea of giving rank-and-file workers equity grants in a sale is the brainchild of Pete Stavros, KKR's co-head of US Private Equity; Stavros said he became interested in employee ownership at a young age due to his father's work experience as an hourly employee working in the construction field. Stavros has been experimenting with employee ownership models since he came into a leadership position in KKR. Now, the firm uses an employee ownership model in all of its US buyouts and it's hoping to convince its peers to do the same.

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