Asheville auto dealer employees get bonus they were not counting on

A weight many Americans shoulder everyday is now gone for the people who work at Benchmark Auto Sales on Brevard Road near the Blue Ridge Parkway. The entire is now insured. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

A weight many Americans shoulder everyday is now gone for the people who work in gravel lot filled with cars along Brevard Road near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We're talking health care.

"We had 80 percent of our staff was not insured. We have 100 percent insured now. That's a big feat," Benchmark Auto Sales owner Joe Segrave said.

It was Segrave's decision, but he said it would not have happened without the tax bill that finally passed on Capitol Hill.

"I think all of us share a certain level of disgust with what's going on with politics in our nation, and, really, I like to keep this as an apolitical decision," Segrave said. "The bottom line is I had a chance to pay it forward to my employees."

Paying it forward to the tune of about $4,100 a year per employee. That's about $120,000 total. From the front office to the repair shop, employees are feeling it.

"My glasses alone cost me $300 just for the lenses," mechanic Clint Cornwell said. "So, now that I have health insurance and eye coverage and stuff like that, it's going to cost me a lot less money."

"Everything is either somebody's wife, or you're paying for it on your own. Through here, he offered full coverage, which is about unheard of," shop manager Nate Deyton said.

Office manager Stephanie Smith and her husband have two children, and they've had some tough times.

"Especially paying out of pocket, and every year it goes up, so, no, I did not think it would happen, so I'm very happy," she said.

And so is their boss -- happy and hopeful.

"Once this sets in for two or three years, and you're covering 100 percent of it, you sure hope business keeps going and that you keep growing and that you can continue to afford it," Segrave said.

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