Employees had a surprising reaction to the news that their CEO was raising the minimum wage to $70,000 a year

Dan priceGravity PaymentsDan Price announced a new minimum wage of $US70,000 a year in a company-wide meeting April 13.

On April 13, CEO and founder of Gravity Payments, Dan Price, stunned his 120 employees when he announced a new policy that would raise the minimum wage at his credit card processing firm to $US70,000 a year.

A quarter of the employees would see their salaries double.

Before the company-wide meeting, Price had consulted family, friends, and just five other employees within the company. Most people in the room had no idea what was on the agenda.

At first, no one said a word. “People sat there in stunned silence,” Price tells Business Insider of the reaction. “They’re mouthing things to each other, making gestures, but no one wanted to break the silence.”

Finally, the news sunk in. “All of a sudden someone screams, and then everyone starts screaming and cheering and just going crazy,” Price says. They started giving him hugs and high fives.

Price had been toying with the idea for several years, but it finally became reality after an aha moment a few weeks before when he was hiking with a friend.

The scaled policy will go into effect over the next three years. Price immediately set the minimum wage to $US50,000, meaning those earning under that automatically got a raise on April 13.

By December 2016, the minimum wage will be $US60,000 a year, and by December 2017, it will be $US70,000 a year. Price plans to cut his own salary from nearly a million dollars to $US70,000 and to use company profits in order to cover the salary increases.

Price says he was most surprised by the individual stories that he heard from employees following the announcement.

An employee from Puerto Rico who had always dreamed of flying her mum out to visit Seattle said the raise would make her dream a reality. Another employee said he could now afford to raise a family with his wife.

“These were things that I had no idea about and were so, so touching,” Price says.

Watch Dan Price break the news to his employees:

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