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Lawn service puts teen in the green

Published Oct. 13, 2005

David Eilers rakes in the green by mowing it. It's no summer job for this 15-year-old. He says his lawn mowing service brought in $49,000 last year. He was only 9 when he asked his father to let him start the lawn service.

Six years and a riding mower later, the shy teen-ager with a bent for the mechanical has two adult employees.

"It's a good money-maker," David said Tuesday after his freshman business class at Lassiter High School in suburban Marietta. "There's just going to be unlimited things I can do."

Most of those will have to wait, however, "until I get bigger or until I get my driver's license."

David's Mowing Service was built with a $2,500 riding mower, a slogan penned by his brother and word-of-mouth marketing that has attracted nearly 50 regular customers who pay an average of $60 per lawn.

The boy's company has assets of $21,500 and liabilities of $12,110. David has been recognized by a local business group as Youth Entrepreneur of the Year.

"Isn't he just an inspiration? Wouldn't you like to have been 15 and making $49,000?" asked Faye Worthy, a customer of David's for about two years. He does her lawn every other week for between $35 and $50, depending on the services done.

But business success at an early age comes with a few problems, such as the times when workers didn't want to take orders from their young boss.

"I had a crew that would never listen to me, and they didn't respect me," David said. "Over the years, I've learned how to do it. I can handle it pretty well now."

"That was a real problem, because he was a little kid and they were big, grown-up high school kids and college kids," said David's father, Dennis Eilers. "He'd come in and say, "Dad, they won't do what I tell 'em to do.' I'd tell him to remind them that he was the one paying them."

David currently employs two experienced workers, ages 25 and 30. "They really like me, and they respect me, and they're happy to work for me," he said.

His crew mows during the week while David is in school. He works 12-hour Saturdays and sometimes shelves his social life when business calls. He pays himself $7 an hour.

Eilers and his wife, Gwen, bought their son his first mower, with a hitch and a cart for his tools. Another son, Jon, thought up a slogan _ "David's Mowing Service: We Can Cut It" _ and put it on a sign attached to the tool cart.

With that, David was in business.

The first year, David earned $142 from eight customers.

By the next year, he had added 10 customers and bought more equipment. Sales rose to $16,000, then to $36,000 in 1989.

Now, David's Mowing Service operates with three trucks, a trailer and nine pieces of power equipment that David repairs.

He's spent some of his income on motocross bikes and has saved some.