At 15, Justin Ober of Lancaster works for the best boss he could have: himself.
Justin is a ninth-grade homeschooler and began his business when he was 8. Since then, he has been helping people in his community.
"I do just about anything needed, from lawn mowing, mulching, gardening, raking, de-cluttering, snow shoveling, handyman jobs and dog-walking," Justin says.
Justin at Your Service is an appropriate name for the kindhearted teen's business.
"I always liked helping people, especially older people, who need it most," Justin says. "I felt that I could really make a difference in my neighborhood and then it grew to making a difference across the county."
Ken Harvey is a testament to the difference Justin is making. An electrician by trade, Harvey has employed Justin for nearly a year on many projects around his home. Justin helped Harvey tear down a shed, organize his garage, pull weeds, mow, clean the yard, split wood and build shelves.
"Best worker I ever had," Harvey says. "He is very polite, trustworthy, courteous, on time and doesn't need to be told when to start."
The relationship Justin builds with his customers, like the one he has built with Harvey, is the part of his business Justin enjoys the most.
"They're like family to me. I actually found myself on the verge of tears when one of my first customers moved to Florida," Justin says as he remembers some of his first jobs.
However, working for yourself also comes with some difficulties. While the part Justin enjoys the most is building relationships, his commitment to customers, he says, is the hardest part.
"It takes away some Saturday mornings for sleeping in and sometimes cancels plans, but it has helped me to mature in several areas such as time management," he says.
Justin's maturation is what keeps people like Harvey coming back.
Harvey gave one compliment after another, commending Justin's dependability and hard work.
"Justin can work independently without supervision, except with the chainsaw," Harvey says jokingly.
Justin plans to continue his business for the next few years through high school, and hopes to keep it running even longer. Even though Justin has been successful in his business, he does not plan on entering the business world in the future.
"My plan is to become a youth pastor," Justin says.
But for now, he will continue to serve people through his business.
The next project he and Harvey plan to work on is tearing shingles off one of Harvey's sheds. Tearing shingles off a roof is a skill Justin has learned and plans on teaching Harvey.
"Demo work and organization are his specialties," Harvey says.
Through the countless hours of work over the years, Justin has learned many things that some older than he still have yet to learn.
"A good work ethic. Time management. People skills. How to properly manage an income," Justin says of skills he knows will help him in the future.
For teens who think about starting their own business, Justin says advertising is key.
"Get your name out there," Justin says. "When I first started my business, I spread fliers and business cards all throughout my neighborhood and ended up getting several customers by word of mouth.
"Also, be respectful and work hard."
Justin currently serves about 10-15 customers in the Lancaster area.
And though there is a lot of work, Justin also gets some humor from his customers.
His first customer was an older lady who needed her lawn mowed. After two and a half years of service, she said, "Thank you, Jason." Justin says he simply smiled at her.
A year ago, after he finished a job for one of his customers, the customer asked him to which college he attends. He responded by saying he was in eighth grade.
"It is a lot of fun getting to know the ladies and gentlemen on my street who I wouldn't otherwise get to know," Justin says. "I really get to build relationships with them."
"Saved my back, I'm telling ya," Harvey says as he stretches after splitting wood with Justin for four hours. Whether you have a back that needs saving or some odd jobs around the house, Justin is at your service.
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