Andover’s Steve Ingram receives the question, seemingly, on a daily basis.
How do you have the time for everything?
The Andover High senior would be busy enough as a student and three-sport athlete, who earned All-MVC honors in hockey last winter.
But Ingram holds a rare title for a high school senior — business owner. Three years ago, when he was just 14-years-old, Steve and big sister, former Andover High athlete Caroline Ingram, founded their own landscaping company.
Now, “Steve & Crew Landscaping” is an officially licensed “limited liability company” in the state of Massachusetts with a professional website and customers throughout the Merrimack Valley.
“When I was a young kid, I would follow behind my dad with my plastic mower, recreating all the sounds I heard,” he said. “I would love watching landscapers who would come into my neighborhood, dreaming that would be me one day. Now, that dream has turned into a reality when I started my own company.”
Steve runs the day-to-day operations for the company, including most of the manual labor. Caroline, a 2017 Andover High graduate heading into her fourth year at Northeastern University, handles much of the behind-the-scene work.
“Steve and I had talked for years about how cool it would be if we started our own business,” said Caroline. “Finally (three years ago), we said ‘why not now?’
“Steve has always had a passion for landscaping. I know it’s a lot for him to juggle, but he never complains because he’s doing something he is so passionate about. I’m just so proud of the young adult he has become.”
STARTING A BUSINESS
A three-year varsity hockey player, Steve broke out last winter when the high-scoring forward finished second in the region with 21 goals. Also one of Andover’s top golfers, he had played baseball in the past. But when COVID-19 cancelled spring sports, Ingram turned his attention to his business.
While landscaping can be physically demanding work — he spends about 20 hours a week on manual labor — Ingram loves it.
“I got started by mowing my uncle’s lawn in North Andover as well as my neighbor,” he said. “I would throw a push mower, weed trimmer and blower into the trunk of my mom’s car. It took a while, but boy I had so much fun.
“My first customers were family members and friends. It was amazing to know I would be taking care of other people’s properties. Each year, through word of mouth and advertising, our customers grew in numbers. Currently I have more than 15 lawns I take care of, on top of numerous repeat customers for anything from mulch, to shrub pruning. Our equipment has grown to commercial products.”
There is one aspect of running the business that Ingram does not enjoy.
“The bookkeeping can be stressful,” said Steve. “Keeping track of who got paid or who didn’t, along with contacting customers with estimates. My sister Caroline is mainly in charge of that and does a fantastic job. She keeps things running smoothly.”
Caroline is a perfect fit for the job. She’s enrolled in Northeastern’s business school, studying management, entrepreneurship and consulting.
“I manage the website, social media accounts and I track everything (expenses, revenue, customer accounts) in our spreadsheets,” she said. “I also run the payroll and make sure we stay up to date on tax obligations and such.
“I’m more on the financial/marketing side of the business, whereas Stephen is more of the operations. He’s obviously the expert on all the equipment. He loves learning about the latest machines and plans for what upgrades to our equipment we should budget for next.”
Steve hopes this experience will serve him well during and after college.
“I definitely would love to keep my business up and running,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge when I go to college. As of now, I take it one day at a time and enjoy every minute. I am very interested in studying business in school and I think this will help a lot.”
In addition to their business acumen, Andover’s Steve and Caroline Ingram are both accomplished athletes.
Steve has scored 33 goals in three varsity hockey seasons. As a golfer, he placed 35th at Division 1 States and 22nds at MVCs last fall.
Caroline was the No. 2 golfer, and lone female on the team, as a senior for Andover High, and excelled as a defenseman in hockey. She still golfs at least once a week.
For more information on Steve Ingram and Caroline Ingram’s “Steve & Crew Landscaping” visit their website “steveandcrewlandscaping.com” or visit their Facebook page.