CUTTING EDGE KIDS
About two years ago, my family and I were over at Catherine's place for dinner, and the conversation around the table started to focus on jobs. We talked about our current jobs as real estate brokers, and about some of our favourite jobs that we had when we were younger. I went on about my summers as a lifeguard at Windermere Aquatic Club, and my winters as a ski instructor at the Lakeshore Ski Club. My kids were fascinated to hear all the stories about how I once saved a kid from drowning, how I dealt with brats in my lessons (and their complaining parents!), and of course the time I had to clean excrement off the diving board after an overnight vandalism attack on the pool. That got a laugh! Catherine's husband, Nick, started to talk about his summer job as a teenager cutting lawns. He said he used to get around on his bike while dragging the mower and a jerry can of gas behind him. This got the attention of my eldest son, Max, who was 12 at the time. He turned to his younger brother, Remy, and said: “Hey, we could do that!” Remy didn’t seem so sure.
Fast-forward a year later, and the seeds planted from that conversation sprouted and grew into a full-fledged business plan. My two sons, Max, now 14, and Remy, 12, along with their 14-year-old buddy, Maxime, have founded their own lawn-cutting business and named it “La Tondeuse Verte” (The Green Mower). The concept is that they are an all-electric, eco-friendly service, offering quieter cuts with less pollution. They even built customized trailers to attach to the back of their bikes to pull the mower, a weed-whacker and two spare batteries. They have added an extension cord rig so they can charge their batteries at the client’s house while they're mowing.
Granted, they got a little help from mom and dad who donated our electric mower to the company in return for free cuts for life, as well as Maxime’s dad, who helped them build the bike trailers. But the ideas were all their own.
Last summer, the three of them started out with 13 lawn contracts in Lachine West and Dorval South-East. This year, they have over 27 contracts and even had to hire a couple of their school friends. Business is booming for these young entrepreneurs!
Max has taken more of a managerial role this summer, as his busy schedule prevents him from putting in as many hours behind the mower as he might like. He's now competing at a national level in trampoline, where he's committed to over 14 hours a week of training. Therefore, he's in charge of equipment maintenance, managing and securing the contracts, collecting payments, and scheduling for “La Tondeuse Verte.”
Remy is also a busy kid, committed to nine hours a week of competitive swim team practice. Luckily, his two buddies Felix and Marc-Antoine have stepped in to help with the grass cutting each week.
It's been incredible to watch this “dream” unfold into a reality. I’m so impressed by these kids and their ability to handle this level of responsibility at their age. Sometimes I worry that they’re taking on too much, and that perhaps this is causing them unnecessary stress. But I’m reminded that there can be no better lesson to prepare them for real life. Last week, Remy caught a bad cold and really wasn't feeling well as the weekend approached. He was worried because he had two lawns to cut and was prepared to go and do them anyway. My wife and I stepped in and reminded him that he had two buddies he could call to cover for him. Sure enough, they filled in for him and each got a $10 tip from one of the clients that day. Remy felt a lot better knowing he had a team to support him. And that’s another of life’s great lessons: there’s no “I” in “team.”
I knew I had to share this story because it’s so inspiring and leaves me with such a good feeling about our future generations. I hope you enjoy reading about it, and perhaps it might encourage some other young entrepreneurs out there to have the courage to follow their dreams. Because if they can do it... then why can’t you?