The Elementary School Entrepreneur

The 10-year journey of C+I Services, LLC – always doing more with less

In 2013, Christian Schloegel was a fifth grader living in a small suburb of Chicago, IL. He reinvested the money he had earned from snow shoveling in prior winters and purchased a push mower to start cutting his parents and neighbor’s yard to make some extra money.

In 2014, Schloegel’s customer base started expanding organically. Families at church heard he was cutting lawns and eagerly hired him. Word spread quickly and business grew as neighbors saw Schloegel walking his push mower from lawn to lawn after school and on weekends.

In 2016, he was taking care of up to nearly 40 lawns. At this point, the push mower couldn’t cut it (see what we did there). He purchased his 36” Bobcat stand-on mower with the profits he earned through his budding small business.

In 2017, Schloegel was interested in purchasing another mower, one that could “do more” than just mowing. He wanted to offer additional services to his clients, such as snow plowing, mulching, and Spring/Fall cleanups to keep him busy and his business profitable all year round. After much research, he purchased a Toro Multiforce mower that allowed him to expand his service offering by being able to offer snow plowing, dethatching, and other seasonal services.

In 2018, at just 16 years old, Schloegel made another big investment into his business. Instead of using the profits from his small business to get a cool car, he purchased a Ford F350 and a trailer. No more riding his mower to and from jobs.

Business started booming! A few friends worked for him part time to earn some extra money, but more so because they wanted to encourage Schloegel to grow his business. This boom ultimately led to the creation of C+I Services, LLC in 2018. It was a monumental point for the company as Schloegel set his sights on further growing his company and offering commercial contracts for landscaping and snow and  ice services.

In 2020, the pandemic hit and the future of C+I Services, LLC was unsure. Would customers prefer to take care of their own lawns since they were home? To his delight, calls came flooding in and he was swamped.

As a junior in high school, he was busy in virtual classrooms during normal school hours and completing coursework. On top of all that, he was busier than ever quoting and completing additional landscaping and maintenance jobs. Thankfully, Schloegel had some college friends return home during the shutdown who were all too eager to help with the extra swell of landscaping work. With business continually growing, he needed another truck to keep up with demand. He purchased a Ford F450 with an affixed Aluminum Dump Body to increase the amount of material that could be taken and removed from job sites. 

Schloegel was also able to grow his social media presence during the pandemic. He knew that a solid social media footprint would be necessary for the next expansion of his business. He posted videos of the different products he used, while paying very close attention to what other top landscaping companies were using to improve their businesses. Repeatedly Schloegel saw landscapers using a particularly intriguing system – one proven to “do more” than a normal truck. They were all using the Switch-N-Go® hoist system with interchangeable bodies to provide a fleet of solutions with a single truck. This became the next big goal for Schloegel.

In 2022, Schloegel purchased and received his Ford F550 Crew Cab/Long Bed chassis upfitted with the Switch-N-Go® system. At that moment, in the Autumn of 2022, he knew his business was about to change. Rolling up with the Drop Box, Dump Body, and the VersaFit™ Bumper System assured his client base that he had the tenacity and the equipment he needed to get the jobs done. 

In the first few months C+I Services had the Switch-N-Go® system in their fleet, they saw a difference in how the company was operating. They were saving money on fuel, no longer needed to rent a dumpster for cleanups, and his team was safer working at ground level. The flexibility of the business felt unlimited.

The Drop Box gave his team the ability to load 12-13 yards of material, including mulch, debris, and clippings. He’s even rented it out as an additional service. The Dump Body was customized with welded-on D-Rings and upfitted during the winter with a salt spreader that doubles as a liquid brine sprayer – another piece of equipment that can do more. As a commercial snow removal service, customers have zero tolerance for delays. The quick changeover of the Switch-N-Go system allows Schloegel to meet, and even exceed, their expectations when the weather would change without a moment’s notice. The spreader is located in the back of the Dump Body, giving plenty of room for additional salt and equipment. Plus, the fold-down sides feature gives the operators safe access to materials, whether they are using it for snow and ice removal or for loading sod and pallets at jobsites. The VersaFit™ Bumper System has made this new truck even better. This allows his team to take a single truck plus a trailer to a jobsite with all the materials they need.

In 2023, Schloegel celebrates his 10th year in business (so far). Growing this company from a lone fifth grader with a single push mower to a full landscaping and snow and ice management service at only 21, he has many reasons to be proud. However, Schloegel is positive that the business is not done growing quite yet. He plans to add more trucks to his fleet, all similar to his current Switch-N-Go® set up. He also plans to add a couple more interchangeable bodies, such as the Landscape Body, Storage Body, and more Drop Boxes or Dumpster Bodies, all of which will keep him on his goal to find equipment that will do more, with less.