Neighborhood children doing yard work for money to spend on candy is classic Americana, but for Michael Ackerman Jr, the actual work ended up being its own reward. Michael's grass-mowing hobby transformed into a full-scale lawn-care company in just a few years, after he got the word out by passing out homemade fliers and staging a town-wide game of telephone. When the buzz about his business amplified, he managed his growing list of clientele with the help of his new business partners, Michael Sr and Connie, his parents. As a team, they now tackle yard work of all kinds and have added snow removal, irrigation, and landscape lighting to their core lawn-care services.
Twin canine greeters, Jake and Roper, roam the aisles of Woodard Mercantile, welcoming guests to Gerald and Leslye Woodard's expansive store. It's that kind of character that sets the family-owned shop apart. Each aisle offers row upon row of an eclectic variety of brand name supplies and gifts, including pet and horse supplies, lawn and garden goods, jewelry, and purses. Knowledgeable staff members stand at the ready to assist with selections or special-order goods that aren't in stock.
Family owned and operated, Singletree Stables has been boarding, training, and providing riding sessions for more than 35 years. Its hour-long introduction to horsemanship lesson instructs participants (from the most modest of mare mollifiers to the most seasoned stallion-saddlers) on how to groom, tack up, and ride a trained school steed. Qualified handlers edify students in proper equestrian etiquette including proper mounting and hearty hoofshakes to avoid embarrassing faux pas at arena cocktail parties. Helmets are provided, but riders must supply their own pants and can-do attitude. The stable's spacious indoor and outdoor facilities allow for pony prancing practice and grandiose galloping all year round. Call ahead to sign up for your group session with Singletree's happy herd.
It's safe to say that the Brady family has horticulture in its blood. Their history with flora dates all the way back to 1952, when Joe and Catherine opened the 50-acre Brady Nursery. But even then, Joe was no novice?the nurseryman held a horticulture degree from Kansas State University and spread knowledge through Gard'N'Wise, the local TV gardening show he spent 25 years hosting. Although the show has since ended and Joe has passed, Catherine and their four kids keep the nursery running strong. They help customers navigate shrubs, perennial flowers, and more than 150 types of trees, including 30 types of crabapples. And beyond that, they also design landscapes to bring homes to life, taking into consideration how different trees create colorful tapestries during fall or hide homes from vacuum salesmen during the summer.
During the summer of 1987, Frank LeValley and his friends planned a trip to the University of Notre Dame for a volleyball tournament. To raise cash for the trip, Frank harnessed his personable demeanor and love of the outdoors and spent the summer mowing lawns. This entrepreneurism re-emerged in 2006, inspiring him to leave his health-care career and start Frank's Lawn Care. The business has evolved beyond lawn mowing, and now also offers services such as weed eating, gutter cleaning, and power washing. Frank and his squad of helpers—which sometimes includes his wife, 14-year-old son, and an alpaca that’s won multiple competitive-grazing championships—arrive at each appointment dressed uniformly in hunter-orange company shirts.