Young business owners

Published 7:09 pm Monday, September 4, 2017

17-year-olds start up, maintain Albert Lea yard service company

Two Albert Lea teenagers have been friends their entire lives, and now they’re business partners as well.

Michael Savelkoul and Calvin Petersen, both 17 and seniors at Albert Lea High School, have grown up together, thanks to their parents having been friends since before the two were born.

Both Savelkoul and Petersen have mowed lawns and done yardwork on the side of other jobs for years. Petersen has worked installing cabinets over his summer breaks, and Savelkoul has done handywork for a drywall company. The two decided to pool their resources and their ambition to form their own LLC this past spring, Yard Barbers of Albert Lea.

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The business already has 29 full-time customers in its Albert Lea service area, with a few additional clients popping up when people go out of town and need their lawns taken care of in the meantime. Only about 10 of those regular customers are family or friends of Savelkoul and Petersen; the rest came from word of mouth or from finding the company’s Yard Barbers of Albert Lea Facebook page. The pair said they’ve even gotten jobs from people coming up to them while taking care of a neighbor’s yard.

Yard Barbers offers a variety of yardwork services, including lawn mowing, mulching and tree trimming. Both Petersen and Savelkoul said they’ll operate the business through fall, as long as their customers need their lawns taken care of through fall cleanup, before starting services back up next spring.

Savelkoul and Petersen need to see the location before making a price estimate, but said price is determined by size of the yard or amount of work that needs to be done.

Even with both Petersen and Savelkoul now starting their last year of high school and planning to start college this time next year, Yard Barbers will continue on. The pair will take care of the work during the summer, and said they’ll have high school students and other local friends help with any work scheduled while the two founders are out of town.

Savelkoul will go to South Dakota State University, where he plans to major in engineering and minor in ag business. Petersen hasn’t decided on a specific school yet, but plans to major in mechanical engineering.

The two Albert Lea natives will likely have a leg up on a number of their future classmates, having already learned how to start and maintain their own business. Savelkoul and Petersen take care of everything relating to Yard Barbers, including keeping the books and preparing to file taxes.

Petersen and Savelkoul said the business has taught them more about responsibility, and to take pride in what they do. They said it has also taught them how to handle the unexpected and how to overcome it.

The pair said their family, friends, customers and others in the area have congratulated them on their ambitions.

“A lot of people think it’s cool that 17-year-olds run a business,” Savelkoul said.

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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