KINGSTON TWP. — Joey Irvin is bitten by a bug – the entrepreneurial bug.
To remedy this malady, the 18-year-old started his own business named Joey’s Land Care well before he graduated from Dallas High School in June.
Impressed? Don’t be yet.
Irvin’s climb to success is underway. He already has a list of regular residential customers, four commercial clients, a business office and two trucks.
Irvin will be the first to say he has a long way to go before he reaches the level of some area companies, but he is growing his business slow and steady.
In fact, the teen started laying the foundation for his self-employment dream when he was 12 without even knowing it.
He followed in the footsteps of many adolescents who try to earn extra dollars by mowing lawns. Irvin said it all started with a goal of wanting to help out his mother, Sue, a single parent of two children. Irvin has an older sister, Caylee.
“I could see her stressed out about stuff,” Irvin said. “She put in long days, working until 7 p.m.”
Armed with a push mower, he began mowing the yards of neighbors for about $15 each.
The teen expanded his coverage area when his father, Joe, give him a used lawn tractor.
“Dad moved to Wilkes-Barre from Huntsville and gave me his tractor,” Irvin said. “He didn’t need it.”
The piece of equipment allowed the teen to mow more lawns and increase his bottom line.
“I was up to 14 to 15 lawns,” he said.
Irvin saw the direct results of his time investment, which planted the seed of entrepreneurism.
He expressed his goal of wanting to own a landscaping business to his ninth-grade guidance counselor Cherilyn Keating.
Irvin’s dream of self-employment took another step toward reality when his grandfather Tom Dombroski gave him his first vehicle, a 2000 GMC 350 truck.
“It was a rust bucket,” Irvin said, laughing at the memory.
Irvin’s girlfriend’s father, Mike Romanowski, helped the young man by buying replacement truck panels.
“He helped me put them on,” Irvin said of Romanowski.
The truck gave the young man the ability to expand his lawn care services further and fostered more business.
When Irvin advanced to 11th grade, he gave his guidance counselor a business card for his company, then named Deeply Rooted Lawn Care.
The small action cemented his after-graduation aspirations.
In the 2016-17 school year, Irvin, then a high school senior, requested to be placed on the work release program at Dallas High School.
“I am lucky I worked hard in school early on,” he said, adding he had most of his credits for graduation. “I never failed a class.”
The work release program required him to complete four morning classes to meet his remaining graduation credit requirements before being dismissed at 11:13 a.m.
After school, Irvin worked on scheduled jobs as well as taking care of the back side of the business that included attracting new clients, vehicle maintenance and various paperwork.
His girlfriend, Melissa Romanowski, now handles much of the accounting and public relations duties.
As far as that old GMC truck, Irvin turned it into a snow plow truck, which enabled him to plow the parking lot Sheetz in Dallas during Winter Storm Stella that blanketed the region in March with up to three feet of snow.
“I was driving past Sheetz (in Dallas) and noticed they were not plowed out,” he said. “I called them from my cell phone and asked if they wanted me to plow them out. They said, ‘yes.’”
Irvin’s timing allowed him to acquire snow plowing contracts with Sheetz in Dallas, Wilkes-Barre and Plains Township.
“My grandfather recently passed away,” Irvin said. “I am grateful he saw what happened with the truck.”
Irvin also graduated from general lawn care duties to conquering larger projects such as building retaining walls, setting paving stones as well as excavation projects, thanks to the tutelage of Mark Romanowski, the owner of Lakewood Homes.
“I did my first retaining wall at 17. Mark taught me how to set pavers and build retaining walls,” Irvin said, adding about a third of his knowledge came from researching projects on You Tube.
Romanowski also enforced the motto of “if someone else can do it, why can’t I”” into the young man.
Irvin established an office at 2048 N. Memorial Hwy., Suite 100, in Shavertown. His office has become a place for him to showcase photos of completed projects that include retaining walls, landscape designs and much more.
The young man is looking to expand his services to include storm water drainage systems and land restoration after natural gas pipeline installation.
“I have worked very hard to get to this point,” Irvin said.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.