- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 30, 2004

If pushing a lawn mower were the only ingredient of a successful landscaping business, hundreds of youth would have it made every summer.

But Nick Simons, a 17-year-old from Fairfax, took advantage of the money-making potential he saw in helping people take care of their yards.

He started mowing lawns for two of his neighbors when he was 11. Since then, his business, Lawn Wranglers Landscaping, has expanded into a successful landscaping venture that earned him the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Washington area last month.

“When I realized how much money I was making just pushing a little push mower, I decided to get a commercial mower so I could do a lot more lawns. With my truck, I could drive and mow lawns all over the place,” Nick said.

The award was given by accounting giant Ernst & Young, in partnership with Junior Achievement of the Greater Washington Area, a program that encourages students to learn about business.

“[We looked for] someone that deep down inside of themselves really never envisioned themselves working for someone else,” said Ed Grenier, president and chief executive officer of Junior Achievement of the Washington region. “It was obvious from the first time I talked to Nick that when he gets out of school he’s going to own his own company no matter what. It’s in his blood.”

The prize was $1,000 for his business, four business-consulting sessions, business software, a role in the November Washington Business Hall of Fame ceremony and the opportunity to shadow an entrepreneur in the landscaping business.

Nick, who is entering his senior year at Fairfax High School, looks forward to the day that he can do landscaping full time.

“Eventually, I’d like to do commercial contracts for large corporations taking care of their grounds,” he said.

After high school, he plans to attend a Northeast college, where he hopes to pursue a degree in business.

Applying for the award was the idea of Nick’s business teacher, Marsha Reiser. She handed him the entry form, which he filled out and mailed in. To his surprise, he won.

Nick is a three-sport varsity athlete on the school’s baseball, football and wrestling teams. Despite a heavy schedule, he is able to maintain his business during the school year by working shorter hours during the fall and spring.

“Once school starts, I tend to take less than eight lawns because there is just not enough time to do them as well as I’d like to and have quality work,” he said.

During the summer, he often works 20 to 30 hours a week while doing other landscaping jobs such as laying down sod, mulching and trimming.

He charges about $30 an hour. Last year, his business brought in about $7,000, with $3,000 going back into the business to purchase supplies and tools.

He has been expanding his business bit by bit. While at one time he had a only small push mowers, his equipment now includes a Chevy truck, the commercial mower he bought last year, two push mowers, a weed whacker, a blower and a chain saw. His most recent addition is a trailer that he plans to use as soon as he repairs and paints it.

Plans for the coming months include the purchase of a power washer for cleaning decks and patios. He also wants to buy a second truck with a snow plow so he can work during the winter.

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