How This Small Business Is Tackling Poverty And Paying Its Employees Twice The Minimum Wage

This Pennsylvania-based business says that the minimum wage in the state is a “poverty wage.”  Instead, they’re opting to pay their employees nearly twice that.

The Lancaster Food Company was started last year by Charlie Crystle and Craig Lauer, an entrepreneur and a foodie, respectively.  They sell breads, seed butters, salsas, and maple syrup — all organic and all local.  But aside from serving up high quality food, the duo want to solve some serious social issues in the area.

Lancaster City has a high poverty rate.  About 30%, Crystle and Lauer say.  While their business alone can’t feed all those individuals, the two want to use their company to show that local businesses can help change that.  So, they’re opting to hire folks who come from low-income backgrounds.  But they’re going beyond the minimum wage, by offering them a starting hourly rate of $14 an hour plus paid time off and benefits.  (According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 50% of the companies in the area are offering compensation around $11 an hour, higher than the minimum wage.)

“We feel people who put in a full day of work should get a full day’s pay, which to us means enough money to pay the bills and have some left over so they’re not just scraping by,” says Crystle.

lancaster

Photo Courtesy of Subject.

There’s also employee ownership: 30% of the company will be owned by the employees.  Right now, the company has 14 employees. Crystle says it pays in the long run to invest in your staff — financially and emotionally.  “It leads to less turnover, which is costly.”

So, how do they find these people and make sure they actually get the job done?

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