Everyone remembers the first winter that they had to shovel their own driveway. After years of watching from the window as Dad trudged through a blizzard with a shovel or a blower, the torch was finally passed on. Oscar Gorall was handed that torch five years ago, at the age of 10, and this winter it’ll burn brighter than ever. Fifteen-year-old Oscar is launching a snow-shovelling business called Glebe Snow Generals – “the next generation of snow removal.”
Gorall says that in winters past, he would walk around his neighbourhood with a shovel on his shoulder, hoping for clients. This year, he has decided to step it up a notch, offering full-season packages to around a dozen clients in the Glebe. “Every big snowfall we have, we’ll be there, early in the morning, or late at night, whenever you need us,” he says. “Just not during school hours.”
While he is the head of the shovelling company, Gorall is not alone in this endeavour, having recruited his neighbour and best friend Nicholas Crichton and two other school friends to ensure every driveway is shovelled. “Basically, we’ll all be assigned two or three driveways that we’re responsible for, that way every client gets a personal service.”
In terms of pricing against the competition, Gorall reckons he’s offering a good deal. “It depends on the driveway of course, but we’re pricing at around $500 for the whole season, which is a couple hundred less than the guys in the truck would charge you, plus you’re giving business to a local Glebe kid which is always nice.”
Gorall also mentioned that with personalized service, things like walkways and porches could easily be cleared off as well. “With those big companies and the big trucks and the big client lists, they end up missing the little things, so that’s how we’re trying to set ourselves apart.”
While summer has yet to officially end, Gorall is already busy digging up business for the upcoming season. “We’ve already locked down two clients and are speaking with two more, so hopefully by first snowfall we’ll be fully booked.”
Both Gorall and Crichton have lived in the Glebe their whole lives, and Gorall is known around the neighbourhood as a budding entrepreneur. “This is actually the second company I’ve started – the first one, Powerplay Washing, was a power-washing business I ran during the summer, so the shovelling business really came to be because I wanted to have something to do in the winter as well.”
Being local is one of Gorall’s biggest advantages, as his previous years of shovelling made him well known in the area. “A couple of clients that I had last year would just wave at the driveway when I got there – it’s nice knowing that you have their confidence like that.”
Gorall has created a website (ogorall498.wixsite.com/theglebesnowgenerals) for the business, adding legitimacy that may be doubted in a 15-year-old with a shovel. Winter may be months away, but at the drop of a hat, or a snowflake, Gorall and the Glebe Snow Generals will be at your doorstep with a shovel and a smile.
Bobby Eros is a fourth-year journalism student at Carleton University with a passion for writing about his hometown.