In the Kitchen with Spencer Winberry

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:28

On any given day driving 25 miles per hour around Lake Mohawk’s manicured West Shore Trail, there are many commercial landscaping trucks to go around and get by. And then there is Spencer Winberry — a one man show walking on foot and 13-year-old owner of Spencer’s Landscaping. A love of the outdoors and machinery has turned into a thriving landscape and odd-jobs business for this seventh grader from Sparta. Sometimes he’s cutting grass, other times he’s removing snow and all-year-round he dog walks and pet sits. “I have always liked it — when I was a little kid, I used to follow my landscaper around with my little plastic lawnmower,” said Winberry. “I like being outdoors. I really like the machinery — I am an equipment nut.” Starting three years ago by borrowing his father’s equipment, he turned his favorite playtime activity into a business. “One day my neighbor was outside and I asked her if she wanted me to mow her lawn. I made $20 and figured this is a good way to make some money.’ After a year of learning the business, he had a better grasp on things, and Winberry got more serious and started to ask for equipment for gifts on holidays and his birthday. Soon enough, he had his own lawnmower, weed-wacker and backpack leaf blower. He began promoting Spencer’s Landscaping with the creation of business cards, T-shirts hats and a Web site, all stating his motto: “You grow it — I mow it.” It didn’t take long before Winberry grew his business by his visibility in the neighborhood and word-of-mouth references. “I have some steady clients whose lawn I mow regularly and then some people that ask me to do it if they are away. In the summer, I work all the time. In the winter on school snow days and weekends, I shovel driveways,” he said. “The going rate varies on the size of the property.” Recently Winberry has been reinvesting in his business by using his capital to buy new equipment. Unlike most teenagers who want videogames and smart phones from the mall, he is in heaven when he goes to his favorite store Campbell’s Small Engine in Newton. “I just bought a brand new weed-whacker and leaf blower. Some money I save, some money I spend, and some I put towards the business.” His personality and solid work ethic has landed him other jobs from neighbors such as cleaning attics and garages, mail take-in and pet sitting. While he gets paid to mow a small amount of grass at Happy Valley Beach, he also volunteers in the summer as the head maintenance person fixing the lights or doing the occasional paint job and beach clean-up. Occasionally when a job is big, Winberry hires friends and gives them a percentage. “I try to make the job easier and faster by hiring friends especially in the winter with snow removal,” said Winberry. Like any job, he takes the good with the bad. “It always doesn’t work in my favor at my age. Sometimes I miss out on fun things with my friends like if I am invited to a pool party. But it’s a great way to make money and be introduced to the business world.” And with that attitude on display, Winberry won $175 in the Sparta Youth Business Competition last spring. He also has big plans for the future, “By the time I am an adult and after college, I hope it turns into a large landscaping business with trucks and everything. Not everyone sees it as something you can support a family on, but I hope to grow it and get trailers and larger estimates and get the job done faster.” Watch out professional landscapers, Spencer Winberry is around the corner. For more information, go to Spencer’s Snowball Cookies Ingredients 4 cups sweetened flaked coconut 2 cups finely grated unsweetened coconut 1 1/3 cup sugar 3/4 teaspoon salt 4 large egg whites 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 4 teaspoons water 30 (1/2 -inch) squares fine-quality bittersweet chocolate from an 8 oz. bar 3/4 - cup confectioner’s sugar Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 2. Pulse sweetened and unsweetened coconuts, granulated sugar, and salt together in a food processor until flaked coconut is finely chopped. Add egg whites,vanilla and water and pulse until mixture is moistened and holds together when squeezed. 3. Roll level tablespoons or with a cookie scooper of coconut mixture into balls with wet hands. Make an indentation in center of each ball and insert a piece of chocolate, then pinch hole closed and reroll into a ball. Arrange balls one inch apart on a parchment-lined large baking sheet. 4. Bake macaroons in middle of oven until bottoms are golden and balls are puffed but still white, 13 to 15 minutes. Slide macaroons on parchment to a rack to cool completely, then peel off paper. 5. Dust macaroons lightly with confectioner’s sugar just before serving. Macaroons keep in an airtight container at room temperature one week. Recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton courtesy of Gourmet magazine.