Alumni Spotlight: Joe Gates, college student and entrepreneur
Joe Gates, 2017 LuHi Grad, is not only attending Creighton University full time but also running his own lawn care business.
BY Chris Loesel
What have you been up to since you graduated from Lutheran High in 2017?
I am attending and enjoying Creighton University in Omaha (they have a great business program!). Also, I have continued to run and expand College Mowers LLC.
Tell us about College Mowers. What motivated you to start your own business in high school? What have been the greatest challenges and rewards?
College Mowers LLC is a full-scale landscaping company that I started after my sophomore year of high school. That summer, I was looking for a job. Previously I had mowed a family friend’s yard, but he was moving that summer and he gave me his old Lawn Boy Mower.
I applied for a job at a coffee shop and I didn’t get it, but the owner had a customer who needed their lawn mowed and I now had a mower. It started with that one lawn and grew from there. Now I have multiple mowers, an aerator, and 9 employees.
I have experienced many challenges with College Mowers that have included learning how to communicate with customers, learning to manage employees, and overcoming the challenge of having poor equipment and or being taken seriously because I was young.
All these challenges have resulted in successfully establishing College Mowers as an official company (LLC), and a multitude of life and business lessons. The lessons that have come from these challenges and great, hard-working employees are the reasons why College Mowers LLC is so successful.
What are your plans and hopes for the future?
My plan for future is to graduate from Creighton with a business degree in accounting and entrepreneurship in 2021. In the near future I will continue to grow and expand College Mowers. Beyond that, I am not sure. I am keeping all doors open with College Mowers and with myself after college.
What did you value most about your time as a student at Lutheran High?
I really valued being part of so many different sports programs at Lutheran High. The sports programs allowed me to have fun while learning about hard work, integrity, and team work. I also valued all the great relationships I had with my coaches and teachers
How did Lutheran High prepare you for college, career and life?
At Lutheran High I had so many great teachers and administrators. They encouraged me, nurtured me, and often mentored me. My interactions with these great people taught me and prepared me for interacting successfully with my college professors, customers, and classmates.
With the gift of hindsight, how has your faith guided you through life?
My whole life I have believed in God. As I get older and time goes by, my faith gets stronger. This has happened with the help of my family, Church, school, friends, and most importantly the grace of God. I look back and in hindsight see so many situations that could have ended very poorly or that were tough. I was able to get up and stand higher because of God.
Are there any particular Lutheran High teachers, coaches or staff members that significantly impacted or influenced your life?
There are so many different staff members at Lutheran High that have influenced me. A few that had a great impact on me are Coach Bloomenberg, Coaches Darwin and Bryan Horan, Coach Vanderhyde, Mrs. Oates, Mrs. Davis, and Mrs. E. All my teachers helped me grow into the man I am today.
Some special memories include the rebellion in A.P. History and the frequent talk of hot dogs with Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Oates and her love for John Cena, and the YEETAR that we made in Coach B. Physics class. Those are only a few of the many stories from my time at Lutheran High.
Is there any advice you would like to offer to the current and future students of Lutheran High?
Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. Don’t stress about the possibility of failure. Sometimes the best risks are the one that don’t work out, but you teach you a great life lesson. Also, appreciate your teachers and your relationships with them. They are a little cooler and wiser than you think.
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