Chobani Founder Surprises Each of His Employees with a 10 Percent Stake in the Company

04/27/2016 AT 04:45 PM EDT



Move over Silicon Valley start-ups, upstate New York-based yogurt company Chobani is serving up the employee perks big time – and its staffers have CEO Hamdi Ulukaya to thank.

On Tuesday, Ulukaya announced to staffers that they each will own a 10 percent stake of Chobani when the company goes public or is sold. Seeing as Chobani is worth billions, each stake can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars for each worker.

"We used to work together, and now we're partners," Ulukaya said to his employees.



As for the reason behind his generous act? The CEO, who hails from Turkey, says it's been a long time coming.

"It's been my dream," he says in an interview with NBC Nightly News. "I'd like to give back to them and say 'you and this community and this country has been so great to us, and I'd like to return that favor back to you.'"

And the act of kindness hasn't been overlooked by staffers, who met Ulukaya with hugs upon learning of the news.

"I think about how little we started and how hard these people worked to bring us to what we have," says a teary-eyed Terry Edmonds, the sixth employee ever hired at Chobani, which now houses over 2,000 employees and two plants. "I'm very proud."
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