Growing up in poverty created substantial challenges for Crispin Brotherton, owner of Brotherton Construction, as he became an adult. Still, he feels very lucky that he managed to avoid common pitfalls that plague so many young people with scant financial resources. He succeeded in gaining a college education at UNC Charlotte, and establishing himself as a small business owner. His own life history has convinced him that people who rely on the work of their employees to sustain a successful business must value them enough to pay them a living wage.
Crispin learned the ropes of the construction business in the South, where he built up a successful business. Now that Brotherton Construction is here in Tompkins County, Crispin is eager to set an example for his industry by committing to paying everyone that works for him a living wage. Not only that, he seeks to provide year-round employment for his people—quite a challenge with our long winters here in Tompkins County.
Brotherton Construction is a small residential construction company primarily focused on high end renovations, additions, design work, landscaping, and other home services. The company’s hallmark is a focus on craftsmanship. They stand out in that they expressly market themselves on their focus on getting where their clients are coming from and engaging in an “organic symbiotic process” to develop what people want. This business approach seems to exemplify how the company seeks to contribute to the community at large. On their application for Living Wage Certification, they wrote “We like the idea of thriving together.”
Tompkins County will only thrive, Crispin argues, if an “ethical alliance” of business owners provides the hope and opportunity that comes with earning a living wage. Employers who pay a living wage are investing in their own future, creating a stable workforce of people who are committed to the success of their employer. These people who earn a living wage are also able to patronize other small businesses in the County, helping everyone else to succeed.
Our national social and economic life suffers from cold currents of despair, poverty, drug addiction and other ills connected to low wages. Crispin Brotherton likes to think of a local living wage as planting a sturdy hedge around our community, that offers some protection from the howling winds of corporate greed.