By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now
NEWTON—Andy Ruth wants to help people and that includes his employees, Newton school district groups and residents.
To do that, he started Railer Services, which provides a variety of tasks, including mowing, trimming, edging lawns, trash and debris removal, snow removal, tree and shrub trimming, yard, garage and basement clean up, landscaping, gutter cleaning, real-estate clean out and make ready, home maintenance and cleaning, and miscellaneous odd jobs.
Ruth named the business Railer Services for one reason.
“I wanted a name that the public would remember and associate with our goals of supporting high school students and their activities,” he said, adding they provide services for residential and business customers.
Andy and Holly Ruth started the business after Andy retired in 2019, after working for 25 years as vice president of a telecommunications company. Railer Services formed as an LLC in 2019, but it took several months to handle start-up issues, such as licensing, insurance, website construction, business planning, etc. They began providing services in spring 2020.
“I retired in 2019 so I could spend more time with my children while they were still in school,” he said. “After retiring, I spent my time dealing with real estate investment, but I found myself with extra time on my hands. For years I had heard parents, including myself, say that someone should do something to accommodate these students’ schedules, so one day, I just decided that I would be that someone.”
His wife, Holly, is a para-educator at Sunset Elementary School and helps a great deal with Railer Services.
He hires adults and high school students.
“I have four children in high school myself, a senior and freshman triplets,” he said. “Three of them are heavily involved in sports and the fourth is close to becoming an Eagle Scout. I have heard from them and their friends for some time that their schedules make it very difficult to find work. Some students involved in school activities are at the school for 12 hours a day. Students involved in scouting have weekly meetings and take multiple two- to three-day camping trips.”
Ruth said many companies are not able to hire them because of the students’ activity commitments.
“We don’t want these students to have to decide between being able to work and the activities they enjoy so much,” Ruth said. “With just a little effort, we are able to line up work that fits in the gaps in these kids’ schedules. We work with students that have a variety of activities. Not all of our workers are athletes. Many are involved in music, drama, fine arts, clubs, etc. Whatever their activities are, we work around them. We work with both male and female students.”
In addition to students, they have other workers.
“We do have workers that are not current students,” Ruth said. “They are past students or adults that are able to supervise and instruct the student workers.”
All the work the high school students do is supervised onsite by an adult. It’s also necessary to have workers other than students now, since the school year started.
“We operate year-round, not just during the summer months,” Ruth said. “Students will now work after school and on weekends, but some things need to be done during school hours, so adults are necessary. With the current education model being affected by the pandemic, we will have to remain fluid as changes come throughout the year.”
With money they earn, the business also helps school district groups and other activities in which students are involved.
“We donate a portion of all sales to the activities high school-age students are involved in,” Ruth said. “Mostly extracurricular school activities and scouting. We do not make donations directly to the school district themselves. We make donations to the groups that support the activities and cover the expenses the school district does not cover.”
For instance, in the past two months, they’ve delivered checks totaling $2,200 to the Newton All Sports Booster Club, which supports sports at Chisholm Middle School and NHS, the NHS football parents group to cover such things as pre game meals, Gatorade for players and other things, and two Newton Scout troops, one for boys and one for girls.
Opening the business helps solve a couple needs in the community.
“As I said earlier, I saw a need that wasn’t being met in our community,” Ruth said. “Not only were these students having trouble finding work, but the programs that mean so much to them are all struggling for funding. I thought I could do something to address both needs by providing them work and sharing profits derived from the business to support youth activities.”
He’s also helping the students in another way.
“I am constantly educating and speaking to them about how business works, the need to provide great customer service, the importance of community and giving something back and the value of hard work,” Ruth said.
When workers think they’re done with a job, he always asks them how they can make it just a little bit better for the customer in order to show them they are committed to quality and appreciate their support.
Ruth thinks it’s important for students to have jobs.
“I believe too many young people today are not preparing for life after high school,” he said. “Whether they are moving on to college or into the workforce, many have not learned the value of a dollar or the satisfaction of hard work. I want to teach them what work and responsibility is all about.”
He wants to provide them with a positive reference when they look for full-time employment and he wants to provide them with some spending money for gas and McDonald’s.
“I want them to enjoy their teenage years, but learn some lessons along the way,” he said.
One thing Ruth likes about the business is hiring and educating young people.
“My father owned his own business, and I began working for him when I was 12,” Ruth said. “I believe it builds character and led to a lot of my success in life. I also enjoy working with the community and seeing how they support what we are trying to do. I have met a lot of great Newton citizens that really do care about our local youth since founding Railer Services.”
Ruth’s biggest challenge is lining up the right students with the fitting tasks during the right hours and he said it’s manageable with a little effort. They’re always trying to expand students’ skill sets, which helps.
“We provide a lot of services, but not everyone is trained to perform them all,” Ruth said. “The safety of these students is always a concern, so we never have them perform any tasks or use any equipment they have not been trained for. The uncertainty of what the school year will look like is also a challenge that we will have to adapt to.”
Their biggest concern is the safety of workers and customers during the pandemic. They do all they can to limit face-to-face contact between customers and workers.
“Usually, I am the only one to have close contact to customers and all precautions are taken when doing so,” Ruth said. “Luckily, much of our work is outside and we are able to distance from each other.”
To get ahold of Railer Services, contact them on Facebook by searching for “Railer Services.”