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Mowing his own path

Marie Nitke/FOCUS Curtis Swanson has taken his mowing service to the professional level. He recently turned 16 and got a driver’s license, along with a new truck and trailer, to expand his business, Little Pine Mowing Services, throughout the Perham area.

Not many 16-year-olds can say they’ve already been in business for five years.

But Curtis Swanson can.

The Perham teen offered to mow a couple of neighbors’ lawns when he was just 11 years old, and from that he created a lawn mowing business that’s grown almost as fast as the grass.

He currently does yard work for about 30 clients along the north shore of Little Pine Lake, close to his family’s home.

With a shiny new driver’s license in his wallet, along with a new truck and trailer to transport his riding mower and other equipment around, he’s looking forward to expanding into a wider area.

While a lot of young boys mow lawns for a little extra money in the summers, Swanson has taken it to a professional level.

He gives his potential customers estimates before entering into an agreement, then returns to do yard work once a week (or more often if requested). In addition to summer mowing and trimming, he also does yard maintenance and clean-up in the spring and fall.

He’s learned how to use the small business accounting software, Quickbooks, and keeps track of his own financials, billing his customers once a month for his services.

Over the years, he’s made and saved enough money to buy himself a four-wheeler, a snowmobile, his business truck and other equipment – all while saving money for college.

And he’s had fun doing it.

“I love running my own business,” Swanson said. “I enjoy providing my own stability. I prefer to work for myself, rather than getting another job (working for someone else).”

He added that one of his favorite things about running his own business is setting his own schedule. The soon-to-be Perham High School junior can work around school, extra-curricular activities like the robotics team, and his Calvary Lutheran Church youth group commitments, among other things.

Recently, he’s added his business name, Little Pine Mowing Services, and logo to the side of his truck as a way to advertise, and has had T-shirts and brochures made. As a gift, his family had vanity plates made for his truck, with his business initials, LPMS, on them.

He’s come a long way from the quiet little boy who would ride from job to job on the family’s mower, tugging a small trailer behind him.

“It’s been fun to watch him set and meet goals over the years,” said his mom, Liz Swanson. “And to see how he’s grown in confidence, such as while talking to customers.”

She added that her son has also “gotten very efficient” at his work, with lawns that used to take him an hour and a half to mow now taking closer to 45 minutes.

This efficiency, along with his new truck and driver’s license, is allowing Swanson to take on additional clients from around a larger area. He’s hoping to pick up more customers within and near Perham.

Swanson typically charges between $15-45 per job, depending on the size of the yard and the amount of work involved. The average cost per client is about $20-25.

For more information, contact Swanson at 218-371-2276.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Perham Focus more than five years ago, and has since worn many hats as writer, editor and page designer. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their one-year-old son, Simon, and their yellow lab, Louisa. 

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