CRESWELL, Ore. -- Bill Spencer, owner of a Union 76 convenience store in Creswell, Ore., offers his employees a special incentive: For every hour they work, employees can put $1 of their pay into a savings account.
Employees can use the money any way they want, but for each dollar of the savings they spend on educational expenses, such as college tuition or books, Spencer gives them 50 cents, according to The Register-Guard.
“If they spend $600 from the savings account on a $1,000 college bill, we will put in $300,” Spencer told the newspaper. “We see it as one of the things that encourages them to further their education.”
Spencer intentionally hires young people; of the Creswell’s station’s 22 employees, 19 are younger than 25 years old. He said many are eager for part-time work and are receptive to his training, which emphasizes customer service.
Spencer began the savings program in the mid-1990s, after learning that his Eugene-based gasoline supplier, The Jerry Brown Co., provided a similar benefit. Since then, a total of 188 employees have put a portion of their pay into a savings account, Spencer told The Register-Guard. Of those, 89—almost half—went on to college and took advantage of Spencer’s offer to pay for some of their related costs.
Spencer said he has contributed a total of $57,574 to current and former employees for education.
“After a while, I got to realize that I had hired doctors, lawyers and teachers before they became that,” Spencer told the newspaper. “Then our customers got used to the fact that we basically had 16- to 25-year-olds working. And they realized that there’s a lot of good kids in this town, just like there is anywhere.”
Spencer starts workers at the state minimum wage of $9.75 an hour. Later, they can get performance-based pay raises, according to The Register-Guard report. He said he typically gives $100 or $200 bonuses in December and March to employees who are doing a good job.
Spencer has operated the Creswell c-store since 1974. He is also part owner of a tire store and auto-repair shop in Oregon.