Nothing’s ever been easy for 15-year-old Connor Turner, but that hasn’t stopped him from running his own landscaping company – A Cut Above Lawn Care Service.
The Bennettsville, South Carolina, native was diagnosed with a combination of gastrointestinal motility disorder and acute toxic colitis, with dilatation of the colon, when he was a small child.
“Connor’s journey actually began in 2010 – that’s when he got really sick,” says his mother, Kim Turner. “What Connor has is not curable, but he’s learned how to deal with it and how to live with it.”
Kim says she and her husband, Larry Turner, were desperate to find help for their young son who was experiencing developmental delays.
“We were going from doctor, to specialist, to specialist just trying to figure out what was going on with Connor,” she says. “Right before his fifth birthday, Connor had his first colostomy.”
Connor’s parents say that changed everything and their family’s life quickly revolved around his colostomy bag.
“He wanted to go swimming and be a normal little boy,” Kim says. “We thought we had to set limitations, but with Connor, there were no limitations because he was going to do things regardless of it. Connor always had his perseverance about him.”
She says Connor could easily be found swimming, crawling around on his stomach, eating popcorn and behaving like a typical child regardless of the colostomy bag.
Starting his empire.
Over the years, Connor endured countless surgeries, a bowel resection and a cecostomy in 2014. It was at that time Connor and his dad started A Cut Above, and Connor would be out mowing grass in between hospital stays, on the weekends and whenever else he could.
“Connor started going to cut grass with me when he was seven years old,” Larry recalls. “We actually had to put a brick on the zero-turn mower so he could mow without the safety switch going off.”
Larry says even as a young toddler, Connor would follow behind with his toy lawn mower as his grandfather, Papa Freddy, mowed the lawn.
“I saw that this was something he loved to do, and I wanted something for him to fall back on when he was out there in the real world,” Larry says of his motivation for starting the business. “This company was built for him and I hope he can take it way farther than I ever could.”
Connor says he’s always loved the outdoors and mowing lawns, so the business was an escape for him.
“I just love to do it and it’s like my getaway from everything,” he says. “I just love the work, and it was my way out of being sick.”
Following the cecostomy, Connor was able to lose the colostomy bag and now has a trapdoor chait tube, which gives him more freedom. Despite everything, Kim says her son’s perseverance has never wavered. “It’s still a struggle, but that does not stop him from trying to do his best,” she says.
A little leader.
In addition to maintenance, A Cut Above provides several other services.
“We prune bushes, do bush hogging, overseeding, mulching, gutter cleaning – a little bit of everything,” Connor says.
And even though he’s only 15, Connor’s the one in charge.
“We have four people who work with us,” Larry says. “And if I’m not there, I can send Connor out with the guys and he’s the boss and tells them what to do. He’s the boss.
“I’m basically the money man behind the scenes. Connor tells me what we need to buy and what we need to do.”
“I saw that this was something that he loved to do, and I wanted something for him to fall back on when he was out there in the real world.” Larry Turner, Connor’s father
When Connor’s not working, he’s either learning about the latest equipment or watching videos from around the industry.
“He started watching videos of all these landscapers on YouTube and videos on different pieces of equipment,” Larry says. “He’s very knowledge about lawns and landscaping.”
He’s so knowledgeable that Larry remembers a time when Connor encouraged a complete stranger to buy a certain brand of equipment.
“We were buying a piece of equipment one day and looking at some weed eaters at our local vendors here and someone else came in and also started looking. Next thing I know, Connor is in the corner with the guy and he sold a piece of equipment to the guy without any salesperson coming up to him,” he says.
Because Connor loves learning about all things landscaping, he was eager to one day attend GIE+EXPO and got the opportunity to do so in 2019.
“He loved that and really enjoyed meeting people from across the country,” Larry says.
“He just loved being able to network with the people he watches on YouTube.”
A sea of opportunity.
Larry, who also works full-time for the local police department, says he hopes the company grows.
“We probably service about 65 customers,” he says. “We’re basically maxed out right now, but hopefully when I retire that changes.”
Connor is also eyeing a new piece of equipment to expand his services.
“I’m looking for a skid-steer,” he says. “I want one so bad.”
And for Connor’s business – the sky’s the limit.
“I want to grow it bigger,” he says, “so it’s huge.”