Marquette Wire

Student grows lawn-mowing business from ground up

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Usually, your dad only yells at you to mow your own family’s lawn. Ben Schmitz’s father had to do a bit more.

Schmitz, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, owns and operates Benjamin Lawn and Landscape, a mowing company in Kansas City, Kan. Schmitz has 40 clients, two part-time employees and a vision to make a lot of dough out of the hated chore.

Schmitz said he worked almost 60 hours per week this summer dealing with clients, advertising, filling out paperwork and actually mowing the lawns. Next summer, Schmitz hopes to take a strictly administrative role in his business, and plans to hire two full-time employees to mow the lawns.

“Right now, my goal is to try and get it as big as I possibly can,” Schmitz said. “I wouldn’t say my dream job is to do this for my whole life, but I want to see where it will take me.”

Schmitz plans on expanding his business through the Internet, potentially creating his own website. Kansas City is a great place for a lawn mowing business because there is more green space than in most areas of the country, he said.

“People seem to care about their lawns more in the Kansas City area than in other areas I’ve been to,” Schmitz said. “There are more people who want these services in Kansas than there are companies to offer them.”

He has made mowing lawns his line of work from the age of 10, when he mowed his neighbor’s lawn for the summer.

Scott Long was the neighbor Schmitz first started working for when he was 10 years old. Long said Schmitz learned to cut lawns under pretty tough conditions from his dad, Mike Schmitz.

“Ben’s dad is a pretty massive guy, maybe 6’3 or 6’4,” Long said. “And (Mike) would walk behind Ben while he was mowing my lawn making sure the rows were straight.

After a couple years of mowing just a few of his neighbors lawns, Mike Schmitz offered to loan his seventh grade son the money to buy a commercial mower to expand his business.

However, it was not an easy expansion.

Ben and his father had a lot of trouble operating the complicated commercial lawn mower.

“When we first got that mower, I was practically crying at the end of the day,” Mike Schmitz said. “I thought I threw four grand away.”

Mike Schmitz has been an integral part of Benjamin Lawn and Landscape from the beginning, whether it was mowing the lawns while his son was at track practice in high school or passing out flyers to potential customers in the neighborhood.

According to the elder Schmitz, however, his involvement in the company has gone down since Ben has gotten older despite the huge surge in workload. Mike Schmitz has been making Ben pay taxes for the last few years.

“He didn’t like that at first,” Mike Schmitz said. “But each lawn can be worth $1,000 per season, so it seemed like the right thing to do.”

While it may seem that Ben Schmitz may be the richest kid at Marquette, lawn mowing is not an expenses-free profession. Schmitz estimates he has spent about $20,000 on equipment in the last seven years or so, and Schmitz is paying for a hefty portion of his education with the money he is making.

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