The retiring owner of a Michigan car dealership spent his last day as boss giving his employees' bank accounts a generous tune-up.

Howard Cooper wrote cheques for all 89 of his staff at Howard Cooper Import Center in Ann Arbor — $1,000 for each employee for every year that he or she worked there.

"Nobody had any idea," said Bob Jenkins, who came away with $26,000 for the 26 years he worked with Cooper. "He just called a meeting with us and thanked us for our service and for sticking by him all these years."

Jenkins told CBC Radio's As It Happens that during Cooper's farewell, he gathered his staff around and announced "he was going to give us all a cheque for a thousand dollars.

"We all thought, 'Wow, that's great!'" Jenkins said. "And then he said, 'For every year of service you've been with the company.'"

Jenkins said several employees had been there for more than four decades. That translated to a lot of cheques with a lot of zeroes.

"If I had to guess, I would have to say [he gave away] a little over a million dollars," Jenkins said, adding that Cooper sold the dealership to a new owner the day before handing out the cheques.