Jul. 21—It was March of 2020 and Tommy Savino was a junior at Phillips Academy. He had been working at Stop and Shop since summer, but with the arrival of the pandemic and the layoffs of some of his co-workers, he began to rethink his position there.
He decided to quit his job and start a landscaping business.
"It was definitely a little bit nerve-wracking at the beginning, because I was going from guaranteed income to something that I then had to control myself. I had to go out and find the jobs, I had to be able to get the labor in order to help me with those jobs," Savino said.
The process was rewarding.
"The only limit to my growth was really my own personal drive and myself at that point," he said.
While Savino reached out to neighbors by handing out flyers and talking to acquaintances, he also took advantage of technology.
"My dad actually sent me this ad that he saw for this new app called Next Door and there was already someone who had posted looking for somebody to mow their lawn, so I went to the person's house," Savino explained.
From there, he said the business began to take off. He realized that while there were a lot of people looking for help on Next Door, there weren't many people answering them.
"I saw that I was the only person on here taking advantage of those people seeking out that business."
As his work expanded, Tommy made his first of many hires with Christopher Savino, his younger brother. Savino Bros Landscaping was official a family business.
"I guess you could call him my boss," said Christopher, who admitted that while it was a "little bit strange" having his brother as his boss, he preferred it to working under a stranger.
"I would rather have him as my boss than someone else, just because there is a kind of deeper connection than just work," said Christopher.
Christopher also says he enjoys the work more than if he were working a traditional high school job.
"Sometimes I think about it, then I go back and think about how much of a better deal this is because I can control a lot more and it's also very cool to be able to see the inner workings of a business," said Christopher.
Tommy soon realized that he would need more employees.
"I just kind of jumped into it so I really thought at the beginning that I was going to be able to do everything myself and then I realized that I was going to need some help," he said. "So obviously the first person I reached out to was my brother, that worked out well for a few weeks, maybe even a month or so before we just had so much work that we just couldn't handle it, just the two of us."
The two ended up hiring a number of friends. Tommy said that while this has created a casual atmosphere among his employees, they all share the same dedication to the job.
"We have the same vision," said Tommy.
Besides mowing lawns and mulching they have also done winter work, like shoveling sidewalks, which Tommy said was made easier by the pandemic.
"Because our school was still virtual we were able to have a really flexible schedule," he said.
Now a 19-year-old sophomore at Fordham University in New York City, Tommy is studying business. His brother is 16, a junior in high school.
So far they say that they have worked with around 100 clients and usually tend to 20 lawns per week.
"I just want to emphasize the help that we have received from a lot of people, who have been kind of mentors to me as well as people who have become clients," said Tommy. "People who have helped us navigate the business as well as navigating relationships with clients."
Tommy even said that one of his clients, also a neighbor, wrote him a college recommendation letter.
When he graduates college he plans to keep the business going, if he can.
"It is something that I can continue to grow and I would like to grow on a march larger level."