SILVER SPRING, Md. (ABC7) — A comic book led a nine-year-old Silver Spring boy to launch his own lawn-care company this year, much to the surprise of his mother, friends and soon-to-be adult clients.
Earlier this year, Marc Lucea, was reading a Big Nate book on loan from his elementary school. In one comic strip, Nate and his friends create a lawn-mowing company. Marc thought, "I could do that too!"
Not long after, Marc created fliers and distributed them throughout his neighborhood located near the corner of Flower Avenue and E. Wayne Avenue. The fliers showed Marc flexing his biceps in one photo and attaching the grass-catching bag in another. The business name: Marc Lucea Lawn Care — or MLLC for short — is prominently placed at the top of the flier.
"I offer environmentally-friendly service with an electric mower. If you are ready to have a tidy, nicely mowed lawn, call the number below," the flier reads.
“I wanted to start working because I wanted to know what it feels like when I grow older," Marc stated while sitting cross-legged on his twin bed. “What I enjoy most about cutting peoples’ grass is the self-confidence it gives me.”
“He’s always been an old soul," said Marc's mother, Marguerite Lucea. “There was no reason for me to say no.”
Marguerite — who had a paper route as a kid — provided Marc with crash courses in customer service, delivering on promises and being responsible. She also found comfort in knowing that the family lawn mower is battery operated and shuts off when the operator releases the handlebar. That battery power eliminates the need for Marc to handle gasoline and navigate around electrical cords while mowing.
“I always make him wear closed-toe shoes. That’s the nurse in me," Marguerite added with a chuckle.
Marc currently has seven regular clients. A few are his immediate neighbors; others live in the general area. Some are so taken by the cuteness, they provide Marc with bug spray, water and snacks like tangerines and popsicles.
“The first lawn I did, they said I did an excellent job. My mom also said I did an excellent job. So, I use that as encouragement," Marc remarked.
Despite the temptation to spend every dollar he earns, Marc is saving for a leaf blower and snow blower. As he sees it, that will guarantee work during all four seasons. He also plans to treat his chauffeur.
“Another thing that I wanted to do with my money was take my mom out for dinner. You know, for special occasions like her birthday and Mother's Day," Marc said while opening a brown paper lawn bag. "And the rest of the money that I have, I’m going to save up for life I guess.”
One could say Marc is slightly obsessed with sports. He plays baseball, basketball, football and a few others. The four-foot-ten, 80-pound, rising fourth-grader has noted his strength is developing with every lawn he mows.
"When he first started, I had to help him push the lawn mower up a few steep slopes, but now I don't really have to," Marguerite said with a proud look on her face. “My job now really is just to bring him some water."
“You know, I got to admit, it’s pretty adorable," said Corey McKnight who lives across the street. "He’s a great kid."
McKnight — who was one of Marc's first clients — wishes more adolescents had a similar level of maturity and motivation.
“That’s a good age to start learning the value of hard work, the value of saving money... I think it's wonderful."
According to Marguerite, Marc is a "curious kid" who enjoys math and is interested in learning Spanish and Catalan to better communicate with his relatives on the Iberian Peninsula. In fact, Marc's love for math is so strong, he often has Marguerite offer math puzzles before bed instead of more traditional bedtime stories. "I want to be a lawyer when I grow up," Marc said, noting that landscaping is a stepping-stone gig. "I love studying and want to be important."
Marc is accepting new customers, but he can’t stray too far from the Flower Avenue corridor of Silver Spring. Like any intrepid entrepreneur, his lawn mowing prices are negotiable. Yet, Marc stresses that homework and athletics must come first... mom’s orders.
“[His clients] think he does a great job. So they say, 'Well a great job at a bargain price. Why not?'" Marguerite concluded.