Kyle Graham isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty — which is an occupational hazard for the successful 13-year-old Oakleaf entrepreneur.
The teen has — well, no offense but, a real crap job. Kyle is self-employed as owner, operator and sole employee of Call of Doodie, a pet waste removal business he launched about a year ago in Clay County.
He’s scooped up so much dog poop and other pet droppings that he recently was able to buy an 17-foot fishing boat for about $3,000. And on Sunday, he got a Facebook shout-out from a guy who’s made a living celebrating dirty jobs and the hard-working people who do them: Mike Rowe.
“Kyle — You sir, are inspiration, and proof-positive that when it comes to #2, somebody’s gotta be #1. Carry on, Mike,” said Rowe on his widely read Facebook page. Rowe responded to Kyle, who’d written a letter describing Call of Doodie, and how he was inspired to start the small business.
Rowe is a television host and narrator, actor and former opera singer widely known for his work on the Discovery Channel series “Dirty Jobs” and as the main presenter of “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” on CNN. He also is the chief executive officer of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, a nonprofit that rewards people with a passion to get trained for skilled jobs that actually exist.
Kyle didn’t ask Rowe for anything. He just wanted to share his success story and voice his appreciation.
“I just wanted to thank you so much for the inspiration to get out there and get my hands dirty! It would mean the world to me to know you read this, so please, please say hello!” Kyle wrote. “Last year when I was 12, I started my own pooper scooper business called Call of Doodie. Your show was a big inspiration for my idea. I’ve earned enough money already to buy my own fishing boat.”
A son of Brian and Jennifer Graham, the teen told the Times-Union with a trace of amazement in his voice that he was stunned to hear back from Rowe quickly. That Rowe replied publicly on his popular Facebook page made it even more incredible, he said.
“Yeah, it was exciting,” Kyle said of getting Rowe’s response. He and his parents together came up with the idea of writing Rowe. “We really weren’t expecting to hear back so fast. It was only out there for about two days.”
Kyle launched his business in March 2015. He wanted to make some extra money, and his father came up with poop scooping idea, he said.
“I thought it was a great idea because there’s not many people who want to do that, especially not in the heat of summer,” the teen said.
Right now, he has about five clients, and at most seven.
“I’m not sure, but probably quite a bit of poop has been picked up since I started,” he said.
For a base price of $40 per month, Kyle’s clients get once-a-week poop scooping service of a one-dog backyard. Kyle also offers one-time cleanups if people don’t need monthly service. His service includes pickup and off-site disposal of the dog’s waste. He said he uses fresh rubber gloves and supplies are at each house to reduce the risk of spreading pathogens from yard to yard.
A full description of his service and price list are available at his website, callofdoodiejax.com.
“I leave dog treats and little notes at every house that I go to. Just to let them know that I was there,” Kyle said, sharing one of his business secrets.
Because he can’t drive yet, Kyle serves clients in the Oakleaf area. His parents take him to his jobs, said the teen who’s entering eighth grade. His dad is an air traffic controller, and his mom is a stay-at-home mom, which he noted is a hard job, too.
“I started on Facebook, just making posts trying to get attention. And very recently, I made some business cards. But mostly it’s Facebook,” said Kyle, adding that some local veterinarians plan to put out his cards at their animal hospitals and clinics.
“It wasn’t easy at all. And it took me awhile to start getting customers. … The hardest thing is just getting like your first two or three customers. But once you get a customer, they start sharing and [gradually] you start getting more and more customers,” he said.
He concedes the work isn’t easy at times.
“Probably the worst part is the actual job because it gets pretty hot sometimes, but it’s not that bad. I mean I only work a couple hours and I make all right money. I think it’s pretty fair prices,” he said.
Kyle said he scooped a lot of poop and it took awhile to save up to buy the fishing boat. Now, he’s set his sights on saving up to buy a car to haul his boat.
“I’m going to buy a Jeep so I can tow around my boat,” he said.
Kyle has some advice for other young entrepreneurs.
“Just keep on working. And just keep your name out there. If you’re trying to start a business, and if you have a Facebook page, post about it at least once a day. If you can find anything funny just to get people looking at your profile, post it. And then one day, you’ll have a new customer, and they’ll go that’s a good idea,” hesaid.
And another tip, he said: Don’t be afraid to work hard and do a dirty job.
Teresa Stepzinski: (904) 359-4075
Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.
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