The company’s CEO and F. Richard Wilton Jr.’s daughter, Melissa Brannan, her husband and president, Scott Brannan, and their son and vice president, Taylor Brannan work together to run the company today.
The company was founded in 1953 by Richard Wilton Jr. out of his home as a residential plastering contractor. Because of having such rapid growth, his business entered the commercial market in the early 1960s. During this time, he had offices in Richmond and Norfolk, which employed 600 people.
When the recession hit in the 1980s, Wilton consolidated the business to only the Richmond office. In 1994, Melissa and Scott Brannan took over the business when Melissa’s father retired. Their son, Taylor, started working for the company in 2009.
Melissa reminisced on how she is told that she used to sit on her mother’s lap as a baby while her mother did payroll. As she grew older, she stated that she “started doing miscellaneous jobs, including wrapping employee’s Christmas hams and answering the phones.” Melissa’s degree is in banking but came back to work in the family business in 1986.
Melissa’s husband Scott also grew up in the construction business. Scott told us that “his father, uncle, and brother grew up in the masonry business and that this business has always appealed to him.” He started working for F. Richard Wilton Jr. in 1983, which is about the time he married Melissa. Scott worked his way up into an estimating role that then turned into an executive position.
Taking on the Family Business
It was inevitable that their son Scott was going to grow up in the business.
“When I was a kid I was coloring wall types for my dad when he would bring home plans he was estimating,” says Scott. “I started sweeping the warehouse at 14, loading trucks at 16, and plastering during the summers in college while I was studying Business Science at Auburn University.”
Scott has served as the treasurer on the AGC-VA Richmond District board for more than 20 years and Taylor Brannan is the second vice president this year. Scott has also served on the state board in the past.
The Brannan family business has a large plaster crew of 90 full-time employees that is capable of performing large projects, new or restoration. They also deal with acoustical, specialty and special function ceilings, metal stud and drywall, rough carpentry, GRFG, GRFC, and EIFS. The company has just recently started including wall coverings, fabric wrapped panels, and doors and hardware packages.
Since the family has started the business, it has maintained a consistent revenue stream with good customers in their territory for many years. With the business climate being more consistent and predictable than the past years, business has been improving and looking up. The company has seen a steady increase in work in its territory in the past two years.
“The volatility has tapered off. There seems to be plenty of work to go around right now,” says Scott.
With the city of Richmond booming with private companies, healthcare institutions, higher education, retail, small businesses, and many tax incentives for historical renovations, many exciting opportunities for development and construction in older parts of the city are happening.
Taylor’s favorite aspect of his job is working on unique projects. “This trade has taken me from working on historical plaster renovations to new state-of-the-art data centers, and everywhere in between.”
Melissa loves to see the final products, which is why that is her favorite aspect of her job. “I am amazed at what our employees can do! It’s also interesting to work with family members. It’s nice to see them every day (although it can be overwhelming because your entire family’s livelihood depends on the business you run), each of us has our own specialty, and we work together well. My husband and I have worked together for most of our lives, which makes for interesting discussions at the dinner table.”
Scott finds the historical projects as the most interesting. He says, “It is exciting to be a part of the revitalization of our city and its distinctive architecture.”
Long Term Goals
The long term goal for the Brannan’s is to hire good people who want to learn so it can continue to have good plasterers, mechanics, and foremen working with us, to remain profitable, keep everyone working while producing excellent quality workmanship they are known for.
F. Richard Wilton Jr., Inc. is responsible for the plaster restoration including moldings, cornices, walls, and ceilings with the intent to match the original finishes using the same techniques that were used in the time of the original construction.
Two things that the Brannan family thinks separates them from their competition is their experience and their employees. F. Richard Wilton Jr., Inc. was the first in the Richmond area to install a Dryvit system, to build a metal stud partition, and the first in Virginia to panelize a wall assembly. As for employees, they have some of the most experience people in the area working for them and the quality of the workmanship proves it. Their senior field superintendent started when he was 19 with them and he just turned 60. They value his expertise and he plays a critical factor in their reputation or the company’s high quality work.
Current Project: Central National Bank restoration
Place: Downtown Richmond
Original Construction Date: early 1900s
Architect: Commonwealth Architects
General Contractor: WM Jordan Co.
Manufacturer: National Gypsum
Products: USG plaster mixes
Cool Fact: At one point, it was the tallest building in Richmond, VA.