Michigan CEO Who Took Home $5 Million Told Employees to Forget About Bonuses. It Didn’t Go Well.

A screenshot of the clip, which was posted on YouTube by @DarrenDebski.

By Isaac Constans

April 18, 2023

MillerKnoll CEO Andi Owen told employees to stop asking about their bonus, even as she pocketed millions beyond her base salary.

ZEELAND, Mich.—Leave “Pity City.”

That’s the advice that Andi Owen, CEO of the West Michigan furniture firm MillerKnoll and the Herman Miller brand, imparted to employees who were upset about potentially not receiving a bonus. 

The incident captured on video has sparked internet outrage, as spectators pointed out that Owen made $4 million in incentive-laden pay beyond her $1 million base salary in 2022, according to MillerKnoll financial documents.

In contrast, the median total pay among 7,700 MillerKnoll other employees was $44,810 in 2022.

After informing employees that “you can visit Pity City but you can’t live there,” Owen seemed to end the meeting by thanking attendees, telling them to have a great day, and then mouthing the word “boom” as she imitates an explosion with her hands. 

During the video that runs for about a minute and a half, Owen chides employees —some questions regarding bonuses were “nice” and some “not so nice,” she says—for not ramping up their efforts to hit a company target, whether they received a bonus or not.

“Don’t ask about, ‘What are we going to do if we don’t get a bonus?’” Owen said. “Get the damn $26 million. Spend your time and your effort thinking about how are we going to get the $26 million we need and not what are we going to do if we don’t get a bonus.”

Headquartered in Zeeland, Herman Miller is one of the country’s most iconic office furniture brands—it recently acquired Knoll in 2021 to form the MillerKnoll company. In 2020, Herman Miller employed more than 3,500 people locally, according to The Right Place.

Last year, MillerKnoll recorded $4 billion in sales, 60% more than it logged in 2021.

https://twitter.com/T2_maybe/status/1648040760749572096?s=20

Owen has served as president and CEO of the furniture manufacturer since 2018 and was recognized as a 2021 changemaker by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. 

In a statement to Fortune, MillerKnoll said bonuses have not been determined this year and won’t be until the end of the month.

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