Business owner Alex Post back on mower after help from friends, strangers
BROOKINGS – Lake Preston resident Alex Post, 18, and a high school junior, is not your typical capitalist and entrepreneur.
Born in Russia with severe disabilities affecting both his arms and legs, he was raised in orphanages until being adopted by a California couple, Dan and Amy Post, about 10 years ago.
Following his family’s move to Lake Preston two years ago, a move his mother attributes to God’s loving providence, Alex started a lawn mowing service. His determination and hard work paid off.
And when he hit a setback, the generosity of South Dakotans helped him overcome it.
The setback came a few weeks ago. The Rev. Joe Ganahl, lead pastor at Abundant Life Church in Brookings, got an email from Alex telling him that “his lawnmower died.” He needed a new one but didn’t have the funds to buy it.
“Would you consider funding me on one of those ‘Go Fund Me’ pages?” Post asked his pastor. Ganahl didn’t have extra cash to give to Alex. But he was ready to help.
“I prayed, ‘God, what do you want me to do with this?’ because I wanted to help him out,” he said.
Ganahl set up a raffle for a couple of donated items, and tickets were sold for $10 each. He also sent about 40 to 60 emails to friends and explained Alex’s situation and asked for their help.
And at a Sunday service, Post addressed the congregation and explained what he wanted to do and his need for a mower. A total of about $3,000 was needed.
As the raffle tickets were selling, Alex’s story was shared and the donations began to roll in.
“A friend from out of state sent me a check for $250,” Ganahl said. “A local businessman sent me a check for $500. A lady in our church gave me a check for $300. My wife (Elaine) and I were in Hy-Vee and one of the gentlemen who was on this original email list came over and asked how the fundraising was going.
“I said, ‘I’m not really sure; I haven’t counted.’ He said he had some money for me. He went to the bank at Hy-Vee as we were standing right there; and he brought me a little envelope from the bank. I didn’t look at it until we got home; $800 in cash.
“After it was all said and done, we were able to raise $3,050 toward this goal. (About $1,200 came from the raffle; the remainder of just over $1,800 from donations.)
“As the money kept coming, Alex said he had the opportunity to have a contract with an apartment complex in De Smet but he couldn’t get there.
“However, from the fundraising there was also enough money to buy a trailer that would allow Alex’s father to move his son and his mower from Lake Preston to De Smet and back.
“For me personally it was just so beautiful, and God did exceedingly more than I could have ever imagined,” Ganahl said. “It’s a beautiful example of what the church is supposed to be like. We’re here to help people.”
Employs himself, others
The pastor also noted that Post wasn’t looking for a handout. He wanted to work, but he had “this special ability” and needed a special mower.
“We talked earlier, ‘the Russian capitalist,’” Ganahl said, smiling as he described Post. “He employs people and employs himself. It’s just been a beautiful thing to see how people have responded to his needs.
“I don’t know what is going to come of all this; but he’s sure going to show people that same love that he received.”
Ganahl did some of the upfront work with Kevin Hanson, an assistant manager at Lowe’s, who helped get the zero-turn mower Post needed – and at a discount. Additionally, a four-year extended warranty that would cover any needed repairs was obtained.
“That capitalism helped not only him but others and will help his family,” Ganahl added. “I think everybody who gave, even people who didn’t know Alex just felt so good about helping him out.”
Alex has been active in Abundant Life since he came to Lake Preston with his parents and brother Ryan, 22, and sister Angie, 25. Like Alex, they are also adopted and also have disabilities.
“I don’t think there’s ever anything he said he couldn’t do,” Ganahl said, noting Alex’s work with the children’s ministry.
Sharing some family history, mother Amy said that Ryan had wanted a brother. He was about 7 years old when the Posts started looking to adopt Alex. It took more than a year to complete all the paperwork needed for adoption, from an orphanage in a small coalmining town between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
“God picked him for us and we were coming home with him,” Amy said, of her and Dan’s trip to Russia to get Alex.
“I didn’t even know where I was,” Alex said of his coming to America. “It took me six months to speak functional English.” Fluency came later.
‘Smalltown Mowing Service’
“It looked like fun to me,” Alex said of his decision to open a mowing service. “It was something I could do to make a little money. I started almost two years ago. This is the first business that I ever owned.”
A friend from California donated Alex’s first mower; another friend, an engineer, modified it for him.
“But when we got here (Lake Preston), things started falling apart,” he said. “I had to start borrowing mowers and getting used ones.”
His new zero-turn mower needed no special adaptation. Any needed adjustments he can do himself. He can drive his mower around Lake Preston; his dad can haul the mower to De Smet.
Alex said he is “self-taught, watched a lot of YouTube videos. That’s what made me want to do it. Heck, why not? Just to say I can.”
He is, however, looking to get some technical training.
“I want to do this during my high school years,” he explained. “I found a class I want to take when I graduate, for a year. It’s on GPS and some other programming (at Mitchell Technical Institute).
His long-range plan is to continue growing the business, get a building and offer his customers “mowing all the way to snow-blowing. That’s my goal.”
For now he has two employees: one working for him and one in training. He admits to being a tough boss.
“They thank me for being tough. They want to work. They want to be pushed to the limit.”
Meanwhile Amy looks upon all that has transpired for the Post family as providential.
“God brought us here. It’s a good place for Alex and God knew it. And he wanted us here, just so Alex could have the freedom and the independence to do what he’s doing.”
For now that means getting customers in Lake Preston and De Smet. For mowing, edging and weed control, give Smalltown Mowing Service a call: 605-270-9813.
COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register