In a rousing address to his associates this morning, Peter Nygård, Chairman of NYGÅRD International, announced that 70 long-term employees of the company would receive a $10,000 bonus. The announcement came after Nygård delivered an impassioned speech to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary in business. During the speech, Nygård detailed his own rags-to-riches story, and the long and rich history of the company and its rise to dominance in the fashion industry. Nygård weaved a central message through all his tales of the company history – the company’s success has always been because of the dedication, ingenuity and loyalty of his employees.

“The people here are what matters,” said Nygård. “You are the fabric of the company. You are family.”

Leading in to the announcement of the bonuses, Nygård recalled a story from his childhood.

“When I was a kid, my family was poor, and I remember being hungry a lot of the time. My best friend was a boy whose parents owned a restaurant. I remember being with him at his parents’ place, watching him make two pieces of toast. He buttered the first piece of toast, and ate it. Then he buttered the second piece, and ate that too. I thought for sure that second piece was my toast! That kid ate my piece of toast,” said Nygård.

“So now,” he said, turning to his long-time employees, “all you people who have been here 25 years or more, I am going to share with you my second piece of toast. You’re all getting a $10,000 piece of toast.” NYGÅRD employees cheered in reaction to the news, and gave Nygård a standing ovation as he completed his address.

This show of gratitude from the company’s chairman is not unprecedented. Nygård offered $10,000 bonuses to long-time employees of the company in 2003, in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the company.