Boxed CEO Chieh Huang wanted to do something for his employees to help them climb the socioeconomic ladder. As the son of a Taiwanese immigrant, Huang says he knows first hand the power a higher education can have within a family. Therefore, Huang has set aside one million dollars of his own personal cash and stock as a college tuition fund for his employees’ children.
Even before offering up free college tuition, Chieh Huang was trying to put back as much money into the company as possible, creating a work environment that paid well over minimum wage. In fact, Huang notes that he hasn’t taken a personal salary in the past two years.
CBS News reports that Chieh Huang is a self-made e-commerce businessman. Huang created an e-commerce site that focuses on selling bulk boxed items. The online retailer is poised to be a competitor to Costco and Sam’s Club as it sells items such as diapers and coffee in bulk. However, instead of having to drive to the warehouse club stores, Boxed delivers the items to your doorstep.
Prior to the e-commerce startup, Huang was the son of a Taiwanese immigrant who worked as a cashier at a Chinese restaurant across from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Huang says his mother dreamed of having her grandchildren attend the school one day, but through his families’ hard work and financial savings, Chieh himself was able to attend. That education is what Huang believes enabled him to have the success he has today.
However, when the Boxed CEO arrived at his warehouse, he noticed that there were not many cars in the parking lot. When he entered the building, he realized that all his employees were at work, but they simply couldn’t afford a car. This got Huang thinking.
“I thought, ‘What was it that created the upward mobility in my family, especially when my parents first came to this country?’ That enabler was access to higher education. The thing is, if you can’t afford a car, how are you ever going to afford post-secondary school? That got me thinking that we are building a long-term business here, and we need to reinvest back into the folks who are committed to us.”
David Taft, a spokesman for Boxed, notes that workers in the Boxed’s warehouses are paid well above minimum wage for the work they do. In fact, with minimum wage at $7.35 per hour, Boxed pays its entry-level workers between $13 and $17 an hour.
According to CNBC, Chieh Huang has offered to pay for the tuition of any child of a current employee, regardless of whether the employee worked there for 10 days or 10 years. He says that the offer will cover four years of college tuition, private or public school. However, he wants the student or family to take some financial responsibility, so he is not covering room and board.
What do you think of Boxed CEO Chieh Huang using his own personal funds to pay for the college tuition of his employees’ children?
[Image Credit: Boxed.com]