I have fond memories of my first summer job: I worked in the kitchen of a pizza restaurant. I loved that job, partly because the hours — from 5-11 p.m. — allowed me to sleep in and still hit the beach before clocking into work. That, and the fact that I could eat all the pizza I wanted. I still dream about that job.
Concord teen Kyle Calabria had a similar dream, only he wanted to be in charge of his own time. So he started a business. A landscaping and odd jobs business. It’s not only been really successful, but it’s taught him a few things along the way.
I wanted to talk to Kyle because I’ve seen the signs for his business all over town — Yard Dogs Landscaping. They’re low-key and inoffensive — they don’t scream “HIRE US” — while being eye-catching. So I wanted to know the deal behind them.
Kyle told me he got into landscaping organically; that is, he was looking for a job he could easily get set up for and bike to, and yard work was a perfect fit. He could do it part-time and still make better than minimum wage. As he gained experience, it made sense to expand and turn it into an actual business.
Two years later, he owns a truck and a trailer, and has become a great source for other teens looking for part-time, flexible employment. He has learned a ton about scheduling, hiring, and managing — more than most first-time jobs will teach you.
It works something like this: Kyle has a stable of teens, mostly friends, who want to work. He takes the phone calls and does the scheduling for the jobs, and then fills them from his employee pool, based on their availability. The downside of this is there are times when not enough employees are available, and then Kyle has to fill in himself.
But he also has a couple of onsite managers, who oversee the jobs, making sure everything goes as planned. And he’s learned to have a contract for his employees to sign, that states they should be “proud of the job they do,” among other things. He admits that one of the harder things about this business is hiring friends; the contract helps to keep it a business arrangement.
Kyle told me that one of the stressful things about running your own business is that there’s no other boss pushing you to keep doing it, and to do it better: it’s all him. That, and the fact that it’s hard to juggle a social life while running a business.
I love that he had this idea and has stuck with it for two years, working through the challenges. I love that he’s a resource for other teens looking to make some money, and I love that his company is small enough that he’s willing to take on jobs that bigger outfits aren’t interested in, like mucking out ponds or organizing garages.
I’m impressed that he’s learned so much, and all before he even starts college, which he will do this fall. What will happen with Yard Dogs then? Kyle hasn’t decided, but I have no doubt he will do it thoughtfully and responsibly, because that’s the kind of teen he seems to be.
Riverway Trail Map
Well, the Rotary Club of Concord has been at it again, busily doing good things for the local citizenry. Along with the Rotary Clubs of Bedford and Billerica, as well as Rotary International, they recently supported the production of the Concord River Boater’s Trail Map, which was launched on Tuesday, Aug. 2. This outlines two self-guided trips down the Concord River: the first from Concord to Bedford, and the second from Bedford to Billerica. Did you know that this section is Federally-designated as Wild & Scenic? Neither did I!
Personally, I like having a map, whether I’m driving or biking, and those maps seem to be plentiful. Just last month, I even got a walking map of Estabrook Woods. So I’m really excited to hear that there’s a map of the river, so that next time I go kayaking, I can really explore.
The map is the third of three pocket maps that show historical and ecological landmarks along the Sudbury, Assabet and Concord rivers. There’s great birding opportunities, as well as interesting wildlife to be seen, when you take a canoe or kayak and meander the riverways. To get your very own copy, go to www.sudbury-assabet-concord.org, or stop by the Concord Visitor Center or in Concord. You can also get one from OARS at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (978) 369-3956.