Angelo Raposo, 12, started his own yard work business when his school year ended abruptly due to the pandemic. He is seen here at home in Thornhill on June 19. (Jake Wray/Terrace Standard)

Skeena voices: ‘I’m happy school’s out, at least’

Thornhill entrepreneur, 12, uses ample free time to start yard work business

At a time when many folks are stressed about the economy and the pandemic, 12-year-old Angelo Raposo is thriving.

The enterprising youngster from Thornhill started a yard work business shortly after his school year at Veritas Catholic School ended prematurely due to the pandemic. Raposo told The Terrace Standard he prefers not attending school, even though he still has to do schoolwork from home, because it leaves more flexibility to pursue his true priorities.

“We get to spend more time as a family,” he said. “And I get to do more stuff outdoors, dirtbike and stuff like that. And mow.”

He started his business with an old lawn mower he found free on the side of the road. A neighbour was giving the mower away and it was in rough shape, but Raposo fixed it up with his dad.

“It needed a change of oil, we took it apart, it needed some new gas, because the gas was really old, and it needed the air filter cleaned, and the carburator cleaned, that was pretty bad,” he said. “Now it’s running perfect.”

Mechanics is a passion for Raposo, who learned shop work mainly from his dad.

“My dad has been teaching me stuff in the workshop for years … like how to fix, my dirtbike, I work on that,” he said. “I just enjoy the process of having something that doesn’t run, or is in bad shape, and then working and putting time into it and then having it perfect.”

Armed with the refurbished mower and a weed-whacker his family owned, Raposo set to work on yards in his neighbourhood, nestled at the foot of Copper Mountain. He charges about $30 to $50, depending on the size of the lawn and whether other tasks need to be done.

He said he finds the work satisfying.

“I like seeing a lawn go from all messy and long to nice and groomed,” he said.

One neighbour, Claudette Sandecki, was very impressed with Raposo’s work. She said she is a senior and greatly appreciates Raposo’s help keeping her yard tidy.

“[He] is polite, personable, and a hard worker eager to follow instructions and please,” she wrote in an email to The Terrace Standard. “He wears a neon safety vest, safety glasses, sturdy shoes, an apron for sawing, and closes down his weed whacker if anyone approaches.”

Raposo figures he’s earned around $400 so far, which he invested back into the lawncare business. He purchased a small trailer with the help of his mom, Lana Kilgren, so he can load up his equipment and catch a ride from Kilgren to service yards far beyond his Thornhill neigbourhood. Raposo said he hopes to find clients in Terrace proper, though that hasn’t happened yet.

The trailer is outfitted with an aluminum cross bed toolbox that Raposo and Kilgren found at ABC Recycling. Raposo cleaned it up, but it needed some welding work, so the pair dropped the toolbox off at Western Pacific Metalworks. The shop fixed up Raposo’s toolbox free of charge. (Raposo said he does a lot of welding himself but he does not have an aluminum welder.)

That’s not the only help the community has given to Raposo’s business. Kilgren said she went to Staples to have small signs printed to display on the side of a wagon Raposo uses to move equipment, and when she went to collect the print job, someone had anonymously paid the bill.

Raposo said his next financial goal is to purchase a new lawnmower, one that can propel itself forward, which would allow him to service bigger lawns. After that, he plans to buy himself a new dirtbike.

He’s lived his whole life in Thornhill, where he rides his dirtbike every chance he gets — sometimes with his dad, sometimes with buddies from the neighbourhood.

“Just a couple days ago I was riding up to my dad’s with my friend and I’m pretty sure I saw a black bear maybe 10 m away,” he said nonchalantly. “It was just like grazing, didn’t really bother us.”

When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Raposo answered immediately.

“I want to be a millwright,” he said. “Then I want to go get another year welding.”

“How come you’re thinking ahead?” asked his mom with a smile.

“Because you told me to?” Raposo replied.

Kilgren said she was not surprised when Raposo embraced the lawncare business.

“He tends to be pretty ambitious, and he’s always trying to think of ways to achieve his goals, so I worked with him to get this all together,” she said.

The pair have spent a lot of quality time together since the pandemic began. They’ve been working on their own yard, which has benefitted from Raposo’s lawncare expertise. They planted potatoes and built a rock garden with succulents. Kilgren said they have also been working together on refurbishing a travel trailer, a project they didn’t have time for prior to the pandemic.

Raposo said he isn’t overly concerned about current world events.

“I don’t really watch a lot of the media,” he said. “I’m happy that school’s out at least.”

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