Young Entrepreneurs

Published 5:59 pm Monday, November 21, 2005

By By Janet Little Cooper
There is nothing out of the ordinary about boys having dogs as pets. Even when the dogs, Lynrd and Skynrd, are registered German Shepard's that consume more than 30 pounds of dog food a week.
The unusual part is how the pet's food is purchased each week.
Atmore residents, Nate and Tyler Fernandez, started their own business to help pay for the weekly expenses of their dogs.
The brothers owned two Jack Russell Terriers that were killed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan and their mom, Melanie Appleton and step dad, Matt Appleton, agreed to replace the pets with two others.
"The plan was to get two more dogs that would both eat about 20 pounds of dog food a week," Nate Fernandez said. "When we got them home and realized it was more like 30 pounds a week, our parent's told us we needed to get a job. We were excited and asked them where could we get a job that paid more than our allowance. My mom told us she would give us more chores to do because we were too young to have real jobs."
Later that day, the pair was looking at four wheelers on e-Bay when the words, "Four Wheels Vending" popped up on their computer screen. Little did the brothers know, they had found their jobs.
"We clicked on it and saw that it was candy vending machines," Fernandez said. "It caught our attention when we read how much profit you can make, and that you just put them in stores and collect your money. That was it we had found our jobs!"
The boys called their mom and step dad to the computer to see what they had found. The two were disappointed to find out that the machines would cost them $149.99 a piece, not counting the merchandise to put in them.
"Our first thought was 'Wow, we don't have that kind of money.'" Fernandez said. "But we soon remembered we did. We each had a savings account at the bank."
Nate and Tyler presented their plan at dinner the next day; they would use the money in their savings account to purchase the machines.
"I feel we presented our theory well," Fernandez said. "But of course our parents immediately said 'No, that is for your future'. We were quick to remind my mom of how she and our dad, Jeff Fernandez, got started in their video stores. She finally agreed to think about it."
The boy's mother researched all the information on start up costs and profit margins. The machines fully stocked with enough merchandise left over to continue re-filling for one month would cost the boys $538.44. It would cost them $269.22 each.
Now, the brothers had to think about the venture themselves. In an effort to cut cost, they searched e-Bay once more to find a cheaper machine. The cheaper machines were used and had shipping costs. Their mother assured her sons that their original discovery was the better deal.
"We decided to go with the new three slot machines," Fernandez said. "We wanted to use nuts, Skittles and tropical jelly beans because they all had a high profit margin. It's kind of like six machines with three different kinds per machine."
They purchased the two machines with money from their savings account. They had no idea the machines would be so heavy and need assembling. Mod, short for 'My other dad', their step dad, put the machines together for the young entrepreneurs. Their mother had promised to find locations for the machines.
"Our first machine went to Video World," Fernandez said. "My mom had owned that store before and asked the new owners if we could put one in. Then our second machine went to Central Farm Supply with our friends, Mr. Doug and Mrs. Leslie, the owners."
We are just glad to provide them a place to do it," Doug Smith, owner of Central Farm Supply said. "These boy's have been coming in the store since they were knee high and it's neat to be able to see them grow up and doing this on their own. I think it is going real well for them here, anytime a kid comes in with a parent that (machine) is the first thing they see and they start begging for a quarter. We are big fans of the pistachio nuts here at the store."
The machines have been in operation for about three months now. The boy's have already paid for their investment and have begun to see a profit.
"Our original plan was to re-deposit the money in our savings, but Mom and Mod were afraid we would want to withdraw more money, so now we have to buy saving's bonds instead," Fernandez said. "We keep them safe in a safe deposit box at our primary bank, First National Bank &Trust. We do all our business there. We may be their oldest customer's one day, we like the ladies there and see no reason to change banks."
The business savvy brothers, will probably buy more machines after the first of the year. The two are no stranger to making a dollar stretch. According to their mom, Melanie, they help her shop for groceries every week. She got tired of them complaining about not having anything to eat or not liking what she bought, so she decided to solve the problem while teaching her teen sons a lesson about managing money at the same time.
"I give them each $20," Appleton said. "They get a buggy and are responsible for getting their own snacks for the week. It makes my job easier, and everyone is happy. They learned quickly how to get the most for their money."
The two stay busy between school, chores at home and their vending business named NayTy Vending. They also find time to squeeze in 'typical boy things' like, skateboarding, rebuilding scooters to jump higher, fishing, collecting music C.D.s, playing X-Box and PlayStation 2, watching movies and riding four wheelers.
"So just remember if you want a dog that eats 30 pounds of food a week, you may also have to get a job," Fernandez said. "Just do all of your research before you get started and remember that quarters add into a lot of money really fast."
Nate, 12 who plays the French horn in the band at school, plans on going into the medical field one day. According to him, he has been hooked on that idea since he was nine. Younger brother, Tyler, 11 plays football at school and hopes to get a football scholarship for college one day. The boys attend school at Escambia County Middle School.

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