Entrepreneurial student wins $5,000 to expand his lawn-care business

Readies for snow removal with onset of winter

Calvin Pimpleton celebrates his $5,000 prize with his mom (left) and his mentor, Laurie Supinski (courtesy photo)

Calvin Pimpleton kept busy last summer mowing lawns with the business he started, Calvin’s Lawn Care.

Now, the 16-year-old entrepreneur has bigger plans after winning a $5,000 grant in October’s “5×5” competition held by Start Garden, a local organization that offers funding for five startup businesses that give a 5-minute pitch to a panel of judges. The junior at Innovation Central High School’s Academy of Business, Leadership, and Entrepreneurship (ABLE) program was up against high-tech companies and experienced business owners who were hoping to land the prize.

Calvin Pimpleton is a junior at Innovation Central High School’s Academy of Business, Leadership, and Entrepreneurship (ABLE) program

Calvin, 16, started his business last year by towing an old lawn mower and yard equipment on a trailer behind his bicycle. He won $1,000 last spring in a Start Garden competition that allowed him to upgrade his equipment.

Laurie Supinski, a program director at Start Garden who has mentored Calvin, says his attention to detail and entrepreneurial spirit won him the award. Start Garden is designed to provide deserving businesses access to capital, and Calvin’s pitch fit the mission of the organization, she said.

“It was really not an investment in Calvin’s business; it was an investment in Calvin,” said Supinski, who said she was not involved in the decision to award him the prize.

With the $5,000 prize in his pocket, Calvin plans to find a zero-turn lawn mower that he can put on a trailer behind the pickup truck he acquired from one of his customers in exchange for his work last summer.

“I’m a solo act right now, but I also want to employ some younger teens,” said Calvin, who is lining up snow removal work for the winter months through his Facebook Page, Calvin’s Lawn Care.

Calvin Pimpleton advertises his lawn-care company through postings on his neighborhood association’s Facebook page (courtesy photo)

Good Customer Service

Calvin relies on his neighborhood association’s Facebook page not only to spread the word about his business, but also to thank his customers and show off his work with before-and-after photographs. Satisfied customers give his work their “likes” and glowing comments.

“Calvin is quite the guy,” said Ann Collins, one of his customers. “He really knows how to sell his services. And, he does what he says he will do, which is nice.”

Calvin, whose father died when he was 10, credits his mother, sports and his church with motivating him to get on his school’s honor roll and find success in life.

Innovation Central High Principal Mark Frost says Calvin exemplifies the mission of the ABLE program at his school, which counts Amway Corp. as one of his community partners. “It only seems fitting that a student supported in part by Amway rises to the top of an entrepreneurial competition.”

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Innovation Central High School junior Calvin Pimpleton started his lawn-care business by pulling his equipment behind his bicycle. He now has a truck (courtesy photo)
James Harger
James Harger reported on West Michigan's economy, courts and politics for The Grand Rapids Press and Mlive.com for more than 37 years. He also is employed as Servanthood Leader at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Grand Rapids. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he also has worked for publications in Holland, Mount Pleasant and Lansing. He is married to Lisa and has one daughter, who lives in Ann Arbor. Read James' full bio.

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