Making plans for his first million is 13-year-old entrepreneur Johnny O’Neill, of Cromwell.
Despite his youth, Johnny has an enterprising mind, offering landscaping and mowing services for locals, and had goals of moving into earth-moving and larger agricultural contracting.
When school finished his true passion began: devising different ways to build his operation.
Instead of simply playing video games, he spent hours after school and full days in the weekend working on landscaping, mowing and clearing jobs, using a ride-on mower.
When the keen engineer did not have a way of transporting his equipment, he made his own solution.
“I built a trailer from scratch, and that is how I get around. I have that attached to the ride-on.”
Cromwell locals Tim Deaker, Jason Thomson and Andy McBride had been mentors, providing space for his engineering pursuits and helping with transport, he said.
Johnny is not worried about missing out on being a typical teenager.
He said he enjoyed the work and “couldn’t care less” about some of the more usual pursuits of young people.
“I’m not one to sit down and do nothing all day. I would be lost with myself if I sat down and did nothing all day.”
He found it satisfying to work through all the challenges involved with being a self-starter.
“I do all the invoicing, the accounts, cash-flow forecasts, all of that as well, and that is all self-taught.”
Johnny acknowledged he was doing long hours and earning money, but he did not focus on that.
“I don’t think it is anything out of the ordinary, but obviously if you are anyone else my age it would seem like an absolute fortune.”
The money he was earning was invested back into the operation, including new machinery.
“The overall goal is I’m trying to slowly progress out of lawns, which I will eventually have people that do that for me, and I want to get more into the landscaping side of things and then progress into earth-moving and larger agricultural contracting.”
Johnny’s mother, Willi De Jong said his accomplishments came despite being diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome, a condition which caused sensitivity to light, and could mean difficulties with reading and writing-based activities for some people.
However, Johnny did “extremely well at school”, she said.
“Pretty much his report card comes back with the equivalent of straight A’s”.
“Sometimes I blame it on the fact that I let him watch too many episodes of Bob the Builder.”
But it was not all hard work, as Johnny did have other interests, including ski-ing and golf.
There were still opportunities for him to have fun, Miss De Jong said.
Johnny had a “7 to 12 year” goal of making his first million, but money was not everything for him.
“It doesn’t really bother me, I’m not in it for the money. I’m more in it for the love of dealing with people, and having a business there to run,” Johnny said.