There's No Business Like Snow Business for The Shovel Boys

Michael Essany Headshot by Michael Essany on January 27, 2011
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While many small business owners continue shoveling their way out of the greatest economic crisis in generations, one small business in the suburbs of Chicago has been shoveling all the way to the bank — literally.

Born of a simple idea and executed with nothing more than youthful energy and a clever marketing strategy steeped in social media, The Shovel Boys of Plainfield, Illinois have been receiving the praises of both customers and other small business hopefuls inspired by their marketing genius.

Nick Pardo and Sean Rooney’s business, however, had humble origins. Friends since Kindergarten, the boys simply wanted to clear the driveways and walkways in their neighborhood as a way to make some extra cash. You see, Nick is only 12. And, at 13, Sean is the “senior” partner. But their small business soon became big business once the boys put their heads together and capitalized on the marketing muscle of social media.

“We have a website and we use Twitter and Facebook to tell people about us,” Nick says. “It seems to be working because we have over 800 Twitter followers and people have found us on Google and Yahoo. We send out email blasts, too, letting people know that snow is on its way.”

Just how popular have The Shovel Boys become in south Naperville and north Plainfield this winter? For starters, their satisfied client list has grown so long that Nick and Sean say they have little hope for a “night in” once the first flurries begin to fall over Chicagoland. As a result, the local snow removal business continues to motivate other entrepreneurs now closely monitoring Nick and Sean’s success.

Illustrating the enormous potential of a simple idea implemented with a clever marketing strategy, The Shovel Boys has almost instantly become one of the most talked-about start-ups in the entire Chicago area. After all, not many snow removal outfits — large or small — actually secure “contract customers” for the duration of winter. (Long-term contracts for snow removal operators have been drying up during the economic recession.)

Dave Pardo — Nick’s father and a small business man and marketer himself — planted a seed in his 12-year-old son’s head about starting a small business in order to earn the money he “constantly requested from his parents.”

“My goal is to teach my son the aspects of running an operation of this size,” Pardo says, “And even though I handle the requests from potential clients, Nick and his friends are fully prepared to handle the responsibility of making sure that his clients are satisfied with their work.”

Only a few months old, The Shovel Boys are already looking to the future. According to the boys with the golden shovels, a growth strategy for their company is now in the works.

“People like humor,” says Nick, who admits that his skillful usage of jokery through social media is vital to The Shovel Boys’ prosperity. “On Facebook and Twitter, people want to laugh and have fun. If they like it, they will tell other people. We are working on making funny commercials for YouTube.”

With more positive publicity and eager customers than any small business could possibly dream of, The Shovel Boys are wisely gearing up to take their brand to the next level.

“We hope to grow by getting more friends to be ‘Shovel Boys,’” Nick reveals. “We are thinking about making The Shovel Boys a ‘franchise’. That way, other kids in other areas can use our name and have customers sign up for service through our website. That’s just an idea right now. We’ll see.”

Michael Essany Headshot

Michael Essany is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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