Back in 2003, four friends, Dave Brogan, Ross Grier, Tim Smith, and Brian Forth, with years of experience in building, woodworking and timber framing became interested in the idea of starting a worker’s cooperative. In 2004, that idea became Bellingham Bay Builders. As a values-based company and a workers’ cooperative, Bellingham Bay Builders was founded to be more than the sum of its owners. It was founded to support its owners and future owners in their creative journey into building excellence and be an everlasting example of a business model that treats all its staff with the dignity and respect that we all deserve.
Although there are a number of technical legal distinctions, in spirit it means they share the fruits and responsibilities of being business owners with the committed and vested carpenters, project managers, and others at the company. In practice, there are three major differences between a worker’s cooperative and a “conventional” small business.
- Most company decisions, and all big ones, are made democratically
- Any profit or loss is split between the owners according to hours worked
- And most importantly, after an apprenticeship period, new employees are welcomed into the role of ownership, including decision-making and profit-sharing.
Since their start in 2004, Bellingham Bay Builders has operated as a worker’s cooperative, enjoying the dedicated direction of seven owners. Although some have moved on to other places and careers their values and efforts have indelibly shaped the company and culture they have today.
They believe that valued, empowered, and supported team members do better work and are more fun to work with. So although their workflow may be similar to other well organized general contracting firms, they think you will notice the difference.
Find out more about Bellingham Bay Builders on their website: bellinghambaybuilders.com