At 10 a.m., when most teenagers are wiping their sleepy eyes to start their summer days, Nathan Humphrey tows lawn equipment behind his bike as he rides to work. He is not afraid that his boss will be upset if he is late because he is his own boss, he holds himself responsible and his business is booming.
Four years ago, when he was just 10, Nathan noticed that his elderly neighbor’s landscaper was neglecting to mow the woman’s lawn regularly. Nathan offered to help the woman for free, but she acknowledged his hard work with cash and muffins.
“That’s when it all really started because I didn’t really ask a lot of people at first, but neighbors would see me mow lawns and ask if I could do theirs too,” Nathan said.
And that’s how his business was born.
Nathan, 14, and his 12-year-old brother, Colin, are the only employees at Two Brothers Landscaping, but Nathan hopes to recruit more employees next summer. The business has grown steadily and organically, he said, and now handles the landscaping needs of 14 homes.
In addition to mowing lawns, Two Brothers Landscaping provides weeding, mulching, leaf raking, dirt removal, snow removal, and additional spring and fall cleaning services. The two brothers divide and conquer tasks based on who likes each task the most. Nathan usually works all day, only stopping for football practice.
A neighborhood boy with such a work ethic is sure to get noticed, and that’s how Nathan met Jersey Chiluisa, owner of Crowner Barber & Co., 5019 Fairview Ave., Downers Grove.
“I’ve been actively looking for kids to do basic lawn maintenance for years and here I am and I see this kid on a bike,” Chiluisa said. “I couldn’t get over it, so I turned around to find him and stopped to talk to him about his stuff.”
This stop was the beginning of a business relationship and friendship. Chiluisa invited Nathan to stop by Crowned Barber & Co. after Nathan finished his day’s work. Chiluisa waited from 10:00 a.m. when he met Nathan until 6:30 p.m. to close the shop, thinking that Nathan had forgotten about their meeting, but Nathan had not forgotten. Nathan was working and his day didn’t end until 6:45 p.m.
The two eventually got together, and Chiluisa offered to help Nathan make his business more official. Chiluisa helped Nathan design a new logo and with the help of social media, Nathan and his brother received six t-shirts, four hoodies and six hats, all with their logo and company name printed on them.
“I wanted to show him that with a helping hand he can be the greatest landscaper in Downers Grove,” Chiluisa said. “He’s such a complete person and his spirit is so kind and genuine. I would love to be a friend and a mentor to him.
For Nathan, the excitement of becoming a more legitimate business has been motivating. He hopes to expand his business by buying a bigger trailer to tow his equipment, hiring another employee and, very soon, getting his license so he can visit clients who may live further afield.
Nathan will be a freshman at Montini Catholic High School this fall and plans to continue working as much as he can. He attributes his business knowledge to his parents and said his love of the outdoors came from time spent planting flowers with his family.
“It gives me something to do and I like being outside and working in my spare time,” Nathan said. “I love talking to new people and working with clients, and I also love working with my brother and teaching him things.”
To contact Two Brothers Landscaping, call 224-283-4536.