Seattle CEO to pay employees $70,000 minimum wage

Ted Land reports

SEATTLE -- Employees at a Seattle company are still trying to wrap their minds around the news their boss just delivered. Some of them are getting a raise.

A huge one.

"You might be making $35,000 a year right now but everyone in here will definitely be making $70,000 a year and I'm super excited about that," Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments in Ballard, told his employees during a recent gathering.

The announcement caught everyone off-guard. Could it be true? $70,000 is the new minimum wage in this office?

"To hear those numbers is just, 'Wow,'" said Alyssa O'Neal, who will more than double her salary. She came to Gravity from a career in the Army and is already making plans for her young family.

"House, absolutely. I have this goal of being a 21-year-old homeowner and I'm going to reach that now and I'm stoked," she said.

Price is taking a big pay cut to make the raises possible, but he says it's worth it to make his employees happy and build loyalty.

"I think this is just what everyone deserves," he told employees.

In a growing city where the cost of living is only increasing, some competitive companies are no longer waiting for employees to ask for extra benefits like a raise.

"I think you almost have to be proactive and take care of your employees," said Matt Ehrlichman, CEO of Porch, a company in Eastlake that developed an app to help people find reliable home improvement services.

While they applaud Gravity for its bold move, Porch executives say stock options could be a more valuable offering for their employees who stick around as the business grows.

"If you are trying to build a great long-term company, your employees by definition have to be with you in that journey," he said.

The Gravity raise will be phased in over the next few years, giving the company time to adjust its bottom line and employees a chance to catch their breath.


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