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Local businesses help 14-year-old entrepreneur after leaf blower gets stolen

Posted at 5:05 PM, Aug 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-02 11:41:24-04

MIDDLEVILLE, Mich. — Zadok Shafer started his own business when he was just ten years old.

"I'm an entrepreneur, or 'lawntrepreneur' as some people call it," smiled Shafer, "I try to change how our youth is looked at as lazy and all of that."

Shafer, a student at Wayland Union High School, started his company 'ZDubs Mowing & More' back in 2016 and has been paying for his own lawn care equipment ever since.

"It's something I work very hard for," Shafer added, "I work very hard to pay for my own equipment, it's not mommy and daddy's money, it's Zadok paying for his stuff."

However, during a trip to a local gas station in early July, Shafer's leaf blower went missing and was presumably stolen.

"We were getting oil, we were parked way out on the other side of the parking lot where there aren't any cameras and next thing we know at the next lawn there's no blower."

Without his leaf blower, Shafer was afraid he'd lose out on a lot of business. That is until two business owners from West Michigan stepped in to help.

"We have an amazing community here in the Gun Lake area," said Jamie Zichterman, the owner of Mitten Pizzeria in Middleville, "we put out a Facebook post and it got a life of its own after that."

The post was shared thousands of times and several people reached out and offered their leaf blowers to help Shafer out.

"Something as simple as a lost or stolen leaf blower brought thousands of people together that wanted to help this kid out," Zichterman added.

After seeing the post on Facebook, fellow business owner Brandon VanHouten of Window World of West Michigan, sent 350 dollars to Mitten Pizzeria to help with the cost of a new blower.

"I thought of it as a random act of kindness," VanHouten smiled, "I sent the pizzeria money for a new leaf blower and that's when things started rolling."

Mitten Pizzeria matched the 350 dollar donation from VanHouten and Family Farm and Home in Wayland also gave them a discount on a brand new, commercial grade blower.

"We didn't want to get him one that he had to replace in the next year or two," Zichterman said.

Now, Shafer says he has restored faith in humanity and can't thank the local businesses enough for their generosity.

"It just restores my faith in everything," he said, "I really like to believe in the good and look at the good but it was hard to do that, this restored my faith."