Kevin Stobb is a familiar face to District I Band members, who have grown accustomed to seeing him at the DNR building, where he worked as lead licensing agent.
But now, instead of seeing him behind a desk, they’re more likely to see him at the helm of a zero-turn lawnmower or be- hind the wheel of a pickup with the bold logo “Stobb Lawn Services.”
Kevin and his wife Marie made the decision in June to leave the stable life of government service for the risky world of entrepreneurship.
“I grew up on a farm and always liked being outside, but I really got lazy working office jobs,” said Kevin. “One of the main reasons for the new business was to get the family in- volved, trying to teach them how to work instead of sit around.”
Kevin and Marie live in Zimmerman, so with the commute to District I, they hardly had any time left for family at the end of the day.
“When we worked up here we’d leave at 7 in the morning and be gone until 6 at night,” Kevin said. “We’d see the kids for three hours a day. That wasn’t what I wanted.”
Marie added, “Especially with the kids getting into teenage years.”
Marie has left her job in Tribal Court to help with the family business and work as a server at a local restaurant.
While she’s recovering from back surgery, Marie is limit- ed to office work and managing the Facebook page for Stobb Lawn Services. Kevin built the website and runs the crew.
“It’s a good thing we get along!” Marie said.
It wasn’t always that way. Kevin and Marie met 12 years ago when both worked for Human Resources. “Oh, I hated him!” Marie recalled with a laugh.
The two became friends eventually and stayed in touch when Kevin left for the DNR and Marie for Tribal Court. They’ve been together 10 years and tied the knot a year ago.
Now their blended family gives them plenty of helpers. They’re assisted by Rylee, 16, Caleb, 13, Christina, 12, and even Gabby, 4. (Blake, 15, is working at a local café.)
Right now they have contracts with the Band that keep them at Mille Lacs two days a week, but they’re hoping to expand the business closer to home.
On their own
Kevin and Marie relied on their own wits and research skills to learn what they needed to start their business. Marie spoke with coworkers and friends who owned businesses to get tips on self-employment.
Kevin spent a year and a half thinking about the business and doing research. Initially they were trying to get a loan from the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, but in the end they went a different direction.
“When we finally decided not to get the loan, I felt confident that we could do it ourselves,” Kevin said. “I figured if I wanted to do it, I was going to have to quit my job and jump in with both feet. This spring I decided it was time to give it a shot. Sink or swim. We’ll see if it works out.”
It hasn’t all been easy so far. Finding new accounts is tough, and there’s a lot of competition. They’re not making a full-time income yet, but Marie’s side job is helping.
The lessons for their children, however, are worth the temporary sacrifice.
The kids are enjoying the work, and they get an allowance for helping. They have their own checking accounts and debit cards, and Marie has already seen them develop a sense of responsibility. “They’re learning how much things cost, and that money doesn’t grow on trees,” she said.
“Caleb said he’s gonna sue me because he hasn’t been paid yet,” Kevin joked.
But on the serious side, Kevin also sees the kids learning. “I’m confident that they’ll know how to earn their money in-
stead of just relying on Mom and Dad or their per cap,” Kevin said. “There’s more to life than that. You gotta earn your keep. And they really like riding the lawnmower.”
“The kids learned how to ride it before I did,” Marie added. Even little Gabby, their 4-year-old, is learning the value of
hard work — although she’s a little too young for a bank account or a paycheck.
“She just gets a toy, so she’s happy,” Marie said.
If you're looking for lawn care, check out Stobb Lawn Services on Facebook or at stobblawns.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Kevin at 320-232-3606 or Marie at 320-232-3564.
Above: Rylee and Kevin Stobb have been making the rounds in Mille Lacs on Fridays and Mondays.
Below: Caleb, Christina, and even Gabby also help out.