AUBURN — Mason Bosse, an Edward Little High School junior, knows about lawn care.
If a drought's coming, he cuts grass longer “so it'll hold more water. If it's rainy, I keep it shorter so it doesn't grow as fast and doesn't look like it needs to be mowed four days after.”
At age 17, he's the owner of “Bosse Landscape and Yard Care.”
Bosse started mowing at age 11. Last spring he had two lawns and wanted more. “I went around my neighborhood and passed out fliers. I got six or seven accounts. By the end of the year, I was up to 14 or 15. Right now I'm up to 21.”
That's a lot for a junior who has four hours of homework a night and is involved in lots of activities, including vice president of his class. Two weeks ago he had to hire another student to work on Saturdays and Sundays.
He's invested in equipment. He took out a loan to buy a $5,000 commercial riding mower. He owns a 1999 F-150 Ford pickup that gets 9 miles a gallon, a trailer, a push mower, a backpack blower, weed whacker and a snowblower.
“I have enough winter accounts. I'm going to buy a plow for my truck,” he said.
He isn't sure what his annual profits are; how much he makes changes with the seasons. During the summer he estimates he makes $300 a week after expenses, excluding maintenance. After Bosse covers his expenses, he said he puts most of that money back in the business.
Business slows in the fall when grass stops growing, picks up in the winter if there's snow. “I save up before winter. You can never predict the snow.”
He said he likes taking care of yards and would rather be working outside than behind a counter. Going from two to 21 lawns meant more business work, keeping an eye on revenue, expenses and profits.
He wouldn't be in business, Bosse said, without his father, Andy Bosse, who helps him maintain his equipment. He's also the son of Debbie Bosse of Auburn.
An important part of business is keeping customers happy. “Do everything to please them,” he said. He does that by being honest with customers. He does his homework after dark.
Mike Szustak of Auburn is one of Bosse's customers who is “absolutely” satisfied. “He's a great kid,” Sustak said. “He does a good job to handle his work and his high school workload.”
EL Assistant Principal Steve Galway said the faculty "thinks highly of Mason, and his peers respect him," Galway said. "They see him as a talented individual who does not shy away from a challenge and who is unselfish, caring and giving."
A few more things about Bosse. He's a mentor for freshmen, is on the academic decathlon team, is a Lost Valley Ski Patrol volunteer, has completed an EMT course with Tri-County EMS and has taken his OEC (outdoor emergency course). “This year I'll be full jacketed patroller.”
His career goal is to become a doctor.
When Bosse showed up for an interview at the EL library, his younger stepbrother was with him. His brother has Asperger's syndrome and autism. “I bring him to school and bring him home every day,” Bosse said. “He's a little bit of work, but he's rewarding.”
He plans to continue his business when he goes to college by hiring workers "I can trust." It is, he said, the perfect summer job.