SEASIDE — Westin Carter speaks with fervor as he illustrates how he hopes his business can expand local market share. His goals are precise. He’s certain he can continue his company’s success.
He’s also only 18.
A recent graduate of Seaside High School, Carter received a $2,000 scholarship from the Clatsop County Master Gardener Association. The award recognized his “significant horticultural skills and entrepreneurial acumen” in leading his landscaping business, Local Lawnboy LLC.
Carter describes the scholarship as incredibly generous, and appreciates how it gave him the opportunity to talk about his passions for plants and business.
“As an 18-year-old it’s sometimes hard to relate to my friends when I talk about whether or not to plant a hydrangea,” he said. “This scholarship really let me show what I’ve learned over the years.”
Carter credits Janet Willoughby, a former client and a member of the master gardener association, with pushing him to apply for the scholarship as a senior.
“I don’t think he approaches anything halfway,” she said. “I thought I was a workhorse, but I pale in comparison to Westin.”
Carter’s business venture began six years ago with a bit of inspiration from his grandfather, Brent Wilson, who ascended the ranks in the banking industry in his career.
“I said in my graduation speech that he’s my hero, and I really meant that,” Carter said. He fondly recalls riding around on his grandfather’s drivable lawn mower as a child. The business, he said, is a combination of his interest in horticulture and his admiration for his grandfather’s work ethic.
As a sixth grader, Carter carried his three-blade push mower around the neighborhood to clear up weed patches for neighbors.
When he suffered a hip injury, however, Carter became frustrated with how his brother was finding success mowing lawns in his absence. The small sibling rivalry quickly became the launching point for Carter’s side hustle to turn into a full-fledged business.
“One lawn became two, two became three,” he said. “Then at the start of last year I had about 10 to 15 regular clients.”
The mark of Local Lawnboy’s work, Carter said, is a dedication to getting every job perfect. He insists that if it’s not what his clients like, they need not pay him. “I want to get it right. My go-to line is, ‘My parents feed me either way.’”
Carter — who was a standout soccer player for the Gulls — works seven days a week and manages five full-time employees. Daniel Sturgell, the owner of Warrenton-based 3D Landscape, helped Carter’s business by lending him trucks for mulch distribution and other tasks.
“He’s really driven for someone his age,” Sturgell said. “What he’s doing, starting with just a hand-mower and working his way up, is really great to see.”
Carter will attend the University of Oregon in the fall, where he plans to study business and finance. He knows it’ll be tricky to maintain the business from afar and embark on his education at the same time. But he said he’s spent months training his workers so that they’ll be able to steer the ship once he’s left for Eugene.
Carter also acknowledges how many of his mentors and clients advise him to take some time off and enjoy his college experience.
“Making sure I have fun along the way is something I keep in mind,” he said, chuckling. “But it’ll be a balancing act for sure.”