Trades Cooperative

So yesterday I watched a video of a startup webinar from the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. What the presenter is talking about seems a lot bigger than what I’m thinking of, but in the Q&A portion, he did say that 3-7 members to start off was a good size, so maybe not.

I’m thinking of a trades cooperative, with an administrator (me, since that’s my skill), an electrician, a plumber, and a carpenter. Maybe one other, since I like an odd number for voting purposes. A brick-and-tile specialist?

I’ve noticed that a lot of independent tradespeople lack the organization to do things like follow up on estimates or reschedule appointments, adjust schedules, that sort of thing. That’s got to be costing them a lot of business.

And while they keep all the proceeds when freelancing, they have to fool with all the stuff that’s outside their skillset. Banding together in a cooperative sounds like a way better alternative than taking employment at a typical business. The pay would be better and profit is shared. And they don’t answer the phone or manage the calendar or send the invoices.

Could I start by freelancing the administration? And then after doing a good job for a while, sell them on the security of a coop, with the benefits of things like health insurance.

Housing Ideas – Motel Model

  • Form an LLC.
    • I don’t know what the starter business should be that begins the LLC, but there should probably be one.
    • Give the LLC a capitalist name like Fillmore Investment Group.
    • Each employee of the LLC receives one vote in representation.
  • The LLC buys a motel.
  • The LLC makes any necessary improvements.
  • The LLC sells the units as condos, retaining ownership of the infrastructure elements and the restaurant, if any.
    • If it’s illegal in a location to sell a condo that has no kitchen, the LLC can alternatively sell owner shares in the LLC which come with the benefit of a specific unit.
    • Each unit (or member) receives one vote in representation.
  • The LLC charges a fee for maintenance and insurance.
  • If there is a restaurant, the LLC rents out the restaurant, preferably to a cooperative.
    • If the budget allows, the rent from the restaurant can support maintenance and insurance, and the occupant-owners. need not pay a fee.
  • The LLC rents out their laundry facility to a cooperative business.
    • Any self-help laundry facilities remain available for the occupant-owners.
  • The proceeds from condo/share sales and facility rentals not only go to repay the LLC’s original mortgage to obtain the motel, but also may be used to purchase an additional motel and start the cycle over again.
  • Each motel participates in direct democracy to make decisions affecting the whole location.
  • Each motel elects a representative to a council that directs the activities of the LLC.

Questions:

  • If an LLC employee buys into a condo, do they get two votes?
  • How big can the LLC sustainably get?
  • Do the restaurant and the laundry get votes?
    • If so, does each business get one vote?
    • Do the representatives go to the location’s council, the LLC’s council, or both?
  • I cannot possibly be the first person to think of this. Who else has drawn up plans?
    • Is anyone already working on models like this?
    • If so, who?
    • If so, can they be hired to provide a report?

PS:

  • Open source
  • Best practice