It is rare to see in the rough and tough world of business today the generosity of business owners that we saw in Gene and Patsy Ponder this week. They sold their business and celebrated their retirement from Master WoodCraft Cabinetry by handing out $1.2 million in bonuses to their more than 500 employees. That is seven figures of generosity for their employees. The Ponders have long been generous with employees handling out bonuses on a regular basis.

Ponder’s generosity comes from an ability to remember his time working for minimum wage and desiring to give a bit more to others whose position he once held. Having started over 50 years ago on the tableside making $1.15 an hour, Ponder related to his employees and knew what it was like to be one of them.

For years, the Ponders have been a generous force in the community, giving freely not only to their employees but also to colleges and other area organizations, even just this year donating $2,000,000 to Wiley College. That is money that will go a long way helping to educate students.

In 1975, Ponder opened North American Cabinet then Republic Industries in Marshall. Starting with 10 people, the company grew an average of 30 percent a year, eventually leading the business to be the fifth largest cabinet company in America by 2004 with around 2,200 people.

Only four years after selling his company and seemingly retiring, Ponder opened Master WoodCraft Cabinetry in January 2008, growing the company despite the overwhelming recession.

The Ponders subscribed to the rare and wonderful belief that those who have more should give more, a rare principal we see exercised far too rarely. The Ponders’ generosity shaped not only their employees, creating a beneficial rewarding workplace, but also helped develop the community around Marshall as they gave freely of themselves, allowing for more much-needed growth in our community. Their generosity has changed lives and raised the quality of life in the area.

The Ponders addressed their employees Wednesday stating the new owners, ACPi, were owners of three cabinet companies and were solid, stable and would take care of Master WoodCraft employees going forward, allowing the company to continue to grow. We are pleased to see quality owners purchase Master WoodCraft and Mark Trexler continuing to lead the company as CEO and President. This will continue the Ponders’ strong tradition.

Congratulations are in order to the Ponder’s on the sale of Master WoodCraft Cabinetry and their retirement.