Oct 07, 2011
BY SUSAN VARGHESE
Standard Associate Editor
For the past 12 years, the Litton brothers have been building sukkahs in The Five Towns. The Lawrence natives, Steven Litton, 29, and Jonathan Litton, 23 own and operate “Build My Sukkah,” and first got their start as kids.
“I was in elementary school and Steven was in elementary school when we helped make our dad’s sukkah,” Jonathan explained. “As we got older, we became partners and built this business to where it is now.”
The Litton brothers are one of the largest and most successful sukkah builders in the area with a very large clientele and handling many sukkahs during the holidays.
A sukkah is a temporary structure that’s used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Evan Litton, the brothers’ father, explained, “It’s a seven day period where the Torah commands Jewish people to live in a sukkah. You have to eat in the sukkah, live in the sukkah, and make the sukkah your home for seven days. Some people are more extreme and will sleep in the sukkah, but most people don’t. Most people just eat and have their festive meals there.”
Evan added, “You’re actually fulfilling a commandment. It’s commemorating the exodus of the Jewish people leaving Egypt to the land of Israel. When they were wandering the desert, they put up temporary dwellings. This is a temporary dwelling and we’re commemorating that time.”
The Litton brothers use only American made material, which is what sets them apart, according to Jonathan. “It’s all American-made sukkahs. All of our competitors’ sukkahs are made in China.”
Jonathan and Steven currently live in Colorado and come back every year to build sukkahs. They’re both involved in extreme sports. “ I race mountain bikes, and Steven surfs,” Jonathan said. Steven has surfed internationally including in Malaysia, Costa Rica, and Mexico, and Jonathan has won biking races out west. They have twin sisters that attend HAFTR and an older brother. Evan helps them with the business when it gets really busy, but he noted that the success of the business was solely because of his sons’ ambition and drive.
“When I was at work when they were younger, they started to put up my sukkahs,” Evan said. “Then their uncle asked them to put up his sukkah, and they started to do it for the family. Then they helped their neighbors and the boys eventually expanded it into a business. I’m just a father proud of my sons. “
The Litton brothers offer rentals, sukkah construction, and repairs and build their custom sukkahs. They also offer lighting, tables, and chairs. The average price starts at $275. To rent a large sukkah (10 x 16) it’s $550. The custom sukkahs vary in price. A 12 x 16 custom built sukkah with three windows, a door, 10 plain panels, a bamboo schach, angle poles, installation, and self-leveling feet can be $3,600.
They make expandable sukkahs so if a customer wants five panels one year, and another five the next, they have the option “The canvas that the large sukkahs are made with have a warranty for five years,” Evan said. “The same canvas made is used for outdoor furniture. At other places, if you buy an 8 by 12 sukkah, you’re struck with that size because it wraps around as one canvas. Here, it’s paneled canvas, which no other company has. You can expand or contract according to what you need.”
The reason they’ve been doing it for over a decade, Jonathan said is the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of their labor. “What I like about doing it the most is that when we’re done we can see our finished products and the customers just have to come home, and it’s all ready-to-go for them.”
In addition to sukkahs, they also provide schachs, which are the bamboo mats that cover the sukkahs.
Evan added that when the Litton Brothers aren’t busy, he likes to spend family time with them. “ Our whole family likes to ski and snowboard together. I go out west to them during the winter and we spend time together,” Evan said. “As a father, you want to see your kids succeed and you’d do anything to help them. When you see them succeed in a business they built – it’s amazing.”
The Litton Brothers can be reached at (516) 610-6610. Buildmysukkah.com.
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