Lawn service duo trying to survive drought
The College Boy Lawn Service, run by two Lake Bluff teens, John Marwede (left) and Ian Forlow, both age 18, their company has been greatly effected due to the drought. | Mark Ukena~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 27, 2012 6:16AM
LAKE BLUFF — With double the clients they had two years ago, College Boy Lawn Service’s income potential looked bright.
That was back in May, when lawns were lush and mowing was good. But in the worst drought the area has seen in years, Ian Forlow and John Marwede, both 18 of Lake Bluff, have battled the dusty, dried-out grass to keep their business -- now in its third season -- afloat.
“We were excited this year with 13 clients,” said Marwede, who counted six the first year and nine in 2011.
At the end of May, their prospects looked good. But unlike most landscape companies, the two 2012 Lake Forest High School graduates don’t require their customers to sign a contract committing to a once-a-week trim, whether it needs it or not.
“We go on the basis of when a client needs the grass to be cut,” said Marwede.
The two check regularly on the lawns they’ve cut in the past, driving by to see if they have grown and need a mowing, or sometimes they just call the customers they haven’t heard from in a while.
“We’re definitely on the lookout,” said Marwede.
Even though they’ve found some people simply forget to call, this year they’ve not had much reason to hire the duo for lawn mowing — especially in Lake Forest where sprinkling restrictions have been in effect.
“They’ll say, ‘Come back next week. I don’t want to pay you to cut it right now,’” said Forlow.
Friday afternoon found the business partners in Lake Forest mowing one of their commercial client’s lawns with push mowers, using a weed wacker to get the tricky spots and a leaf blower to clear hard surfaces.
“It wasn’t much of a lawn because it was so dry,” said Forlow.
It had been two weeks since they last ran their push mowers over the property.
“Normally, we cut every six to seven days, sometimes even five days, depending on the rain,” Forlow said.
“We’re glad to cut someone’s lawn once every two weeks now,” said Marwede.
Waiting 14 days to mow a lawn “is awful for making money,” Forlow said.
The two had a goal set of $2,000 for the summer’s lawn mowing to help with spending money for college. Marwede will attend DePaul University in Chicago this fall, while Forlow will go to Rochester University in New York.
“I don’t’ know that we’ll reach that this year,” said Marwede.
Luckily, their clients have found other jobs to supplement their lawn mowing losses.
“One day we pulled weeds for five hours in someone’s backyard,” said Forlow.
They also helped people move furniture and other handy-man jobs.
“We don’t have a problem with doing any of that,” Forlow said.
Even though the lawn mowing took a nosedive this summer, Marwede still enjoys the work.
“I personally love landscaping,” he said. “I don’t plan on pursuing it as a career, but I enjoy working outside, working in the sun, that physical kind of labor. It sure beats sitting in an office.”