Zach Welna likes being outside so much that he turned it into a business. The Shakopee junior started Zach’s Lawn Care in 2013, when he was 11 years old, mowing lawns for nine neighborhood clients. He charged $15 per yard.
He bought a trailer used for carrying small kids behind bicycles. Welna ripped off the top, then converted the base into a flatbed to haul his walk-beyond mower. He pulled the trailer behind his four-wheeled bicycle.
I’m usually impressed by teenagers who do something unique or exceptional, like start their own business, and Welna is no exception. I had the opportunity to meet with him last Sunday, and he shared his story with me. I think it’s important to showcase the successes of our local high schoolers. On a personal level, I find what Welna is doing to be inspiring.
Last year, he incorporated his business as Welna’s Outdoor Services LLC. The company has expanded to provide lawn care services beyond mowing such as aeration and detaching in addition to landscaping, snow plowing, waste removal, and tree trimming and removal. He’s licensed, insured, and prices now start at $25 a yard. He’s set up to take payments electronically, or traditional methods like cash or check.
“My dad is outdoorsy, so I learned a lot from him. For tree trimming, I started out trimming a small tree, and I learned from that. If there’s a big tree leaning over somebody’s house, I wouldn’t do that, but I will do a lot of projects,” he told me. “I was never into video games, so this is like my video game. I still don’t know how to use an Xbox controller.”
Welna has an F-150 pickup and trailer, a 60-inch Toro Titan zero-turn mower, a snowblower, and lawn equipment such as an aerator and detacher. He usually works about 40 hours per week.
“The summer, winter, and even the fall can be busy,” he said. “The fall can be pretty busy because the days are shorter and I only have so much time after school to remove peoples’ leaves.”
When he’s really busy, like with landscaping projects, he hires friends to help. He serves corporate clients throughout the metro area and residential clients in and around Shakopee. He’s currently working to get his company featured on the Plowzandmowz app, which is like an Uber for lawncare services. Customers can go into the app, type in their address, and get connected with a local company that provides the service.
His other marketing strategy is to hang flyers on peoples’ doors. He starts in the Southbridge area where he lives and expands outward from there.
“My favorite part of my business is I get to work for myself,” Welna said. “I have flexibility being my own boss. If I want to sleep in an extra hour and work an extra hour at night, I can. The corporate accounts are the best. You unload your mower one time and you can mow for three hours. But I like all of it. I like turning something that’s sand or grass into something beautiful with landscaping. I like to see the final product.”
His biggest challenges are the same types of pain points many small businesses face. “It’s hard to find good workers,” Welna said. “Another challenge is managing all of the customers and setting up the schedules to make everyone happy.”
After high school, he plans to continue running and even expanding his business, and maybe going to a technical college. “If I do go to college, I would go to a trade school,” he said. “For now, I want to stay small with my business so when you call, you’re talking to the owner. When you call my company, you talk to me, who is somebody who cares.”
Welna is investing most of the money he’s making, but he also knows how to have fun with it. “I like to hunt, so I bought a few guns and I go on hunting trips with my dad, brother, my grandpa, and cousins, so they’re family trips,” he said. “I also like outdoor toys like jet skis and four-wheelers.”