When the COVID-19 crisis struck, some business leaders across the country stepped up in different ways to make sure their employees — and their communities — stayed afloat.
Some took pay cuts while others donated their services to those who needed it most, going above and beyond the call of duty in the name of doing good. Below, get to know three of the leaders featured in this week's issue of PEOPLE after taking it upon themselves to give back.
Disinfecting the Front Lines
As the owner of SERVPRO, a franchise company that sanitizes buildings after they’ve been hit by fires, floods and mold infestation, Peter Barbera knows the importance of cleanliness. That’s why the 42-year-old of Bordentown, New Jersey, stepped up amid the pandemic to offer his services to local firefighters and police and disinfect their vehicles for free.
“First responders work hard day in and day out to keep us safe,” says Barbera, whose crew cleaned a fire truck in Hamilton Square, New Jersey, in the photo above. “This was just a small way for us to give back.”
For more companies with heart, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.
Inspiration from Grandpa
When the pandemic hit, Columbia Sportswear President and CEO Tim Boyle couldn’t help but think of his grandfather Paul Lamfrom, who “basically fled for his life” from Nazi Germany in 1937 with $20 and a massive shirt factory left behind.
“I realize it’s not the same now, but if my grandfather could do what he did at 55, we can get through this,” Boyle, 70, says. “We’ve been through so many challenging times before.”
With that in mind, the head of the Oregon-based outdoor sportswear retailer slashed his $3.3 million salary down to $10,000 to ensure that his nearly 9,000 employees would receive their regular pay and benefits. And he wasn’t alone — at least 10 of Columbia’s top executives took voluntary 15 percent pay cuts.
They Pulled Cash from the Walls
Hott Leggz, a popular restaurant and sports bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was forced to temporarily close up shop on St. Patrick’s Day due to the pandemic, leaving co-owners Ky Novak, 52, and Juliana Sodre, 41, deeply “concerned” about how their 23 employees were going to survive.
They soon realized, however, that their walls were covered with dollar bills left behind by customers — $9,648 of them to be exact. It took three weeks to pull all the money down from the walls, but in the end, the money was divided equally and paired with some donations, and each worker took home $498.
“It was quite a task, but we used needle-nose pliers to take them down,” says Novak. “The actual value of the money wasn’t life-changing, but knowing that they work for someone who cares is.”
- Reporting by ANDREA BILLUPS, DIANE HERBST and JULIETTE VARA