BRAINERD – There are hardly enough hours in the days and days in the week for Brandon Eberts to carry out all his responsibilities and activities.
A sophomore at Brainerd High School, Brandon works at the Great River Door Company after school when he is not sailing and dedicates his weekends to the Lakeland woodsmiths. The unique part about the previous venture is that Brandon can call it his own. Last summer, at just 14 years old, the teen started his own lumber business.
“It gets a little overwhelming sometimes,” Brandon said during an interview on September 30. “But I can usually handle it.”
Now, after turning just 16 last week, Brandon is busier than ever, creating custom cutting boards, signs, cribbage boards and other items for his clients.
He hopes to increase his product offering as he acquires more tools to add to his store of saws, laser engravers, lathes, joiners, planers and sanding equipment.
“I would love to order big custom, like tables – coffee tables, dining tables, side tables – all kinds of basic furniture, but then put a twist on that and make it unique,” he said.
After recently winning money in a statewide business contest, Brandon is well on his way to do so.
The MN Cup, organized by the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, is a community-led, public-private partnership that supports entrepreneurs. An annual competition connects those starting their own businesses with educational opportunities, mentors, and support to launch and further grow their enterprises.
Brandon entered the youth division of the MN Cup last summer and found himself presenting the business plan and pitch deck, creating videos and talking about his brand. After months of work and productions, the teen came in second, earning $5,000 to invest in Lakeland Woodsmiths.
“It’s really allowed me to grow from this,” Brandon said, because his busy schedule with school, work and extra-curriculars makes it difficult to invest as much time and money in his business as he wants.
But his job at the Great River Door in Brainerd, along with other community connections, is also part of what makes Lakeland Woodsmith possible.
Advice on things like pricing and marketing came from Brent Manley, owner of Great River Door, while Chris Smith at the Minnesota makerspace in Brainerd has been a fountain of knowledge in areas like laser engraving. Businesses also provide him with more space to work and equipment to use when needed.
“He just has that interest and desire to make things happen,” Manley said. “He’s always looking for new ideas.”
But Brandon’s first mentors were much closer to home.
“I started with my grandfather,” he said. “He bought me a set of tools, and we started building things together—the deer stand, the signs, the little shelves, the basic stuff.”
Then in middle school, he explored STEM classes and developed an aptitude for the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. One specific class really piqued her interest as she learned how to use laser engraving and computer numerical control machines when working with wood.
“After that, I realized it could be profitable because we made a signal – a Minnesota signal – and some people offered me a few hundred bucks for it,” Brandon said. “So I was like, ‘Oh, I could start doing this to make money.
It was a move that made his parents a bit hesitant at first, but now Matt and Deb Eberts couldn’t be prouder of their son.
“Once he sets his mind to something, he’s out of the race,” Matt said. “And I’m really lucky that she’s chosen to put her mind to positive things.”
His son has always been a child with big ideas, unable to think small. So once Kishore came up with his business idea, it was on him to do all the work.
“I said, ‘Look, if you want to pursue this, that’s great. You know, we’re going to offer what we can, but that’s you. It’s your thing, and you have to You have to study it. You have to research it. You have to work if you ever intend to sell things,'” Matt said.
And so did Brandon.
By reaching out to local business owners, drawing inspiration from former teachers, relying on his grandfather’s wealth of knowledge and the support of his parents, Brandon cultivated an enterprise of his own.
“People have been so wonderfully generous with recognizing her enthusiasm and sowing it in a healthy way,” Matt said.
Brandon is also grateful for the support, knowing that his success would not be possible without it, and encouraging other kids with big ideas to follow the same path.
“You have to find someone who knows what they’re doing — some consultant or some business owner, family member — someone who has experience with that and just talk to them,” Brandon said.
Brandon’s Lakeland Woodsmith website is a testament to the kind of mentorship, with photos of their completed and customized cutting boards, serving boards, charcuterie boards, signs and luggage tags, all of which with the care and precision customers can expect from a professional Huh.
And if a product doesn’t come out exactly as Brandon envisioned, there’s a good chance it will end up in the home of a parent or grandparent, which takes a lot of hard work, a determined mind, and a little encouragement. could.
Theresa Bourke can be reached here
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