• Cinde Ingram

Grill industry innovator Ray Shelor inspires grandson

BUFORD, Ga. - Ray Shelor of DiversiTech is seeing his innovation and business ethic inspire his grandson to create a business plan of his own.

Shelor was among the manufacturers who donated grills and barbecue accessories to U.S. troops in Iraq and other overseas areas who were surprised to be recognized seven years ago by Bill Winters of Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation, during the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Expo in Atlanta.

With the HPBExpo opening today in Salt Lake City, Shelor is representing DiversiTech's Original Grill Pad and Christmas Tree Mat products. In addition to those protective products, he feels proud of Lawns Away LLC, the residential and commercial property maintenance company he recently helped his grandson Devin Michael Shelor to open.

Shelor recalled Devin had approached him to talk about starting a business after the then 12-year-old had completed sixth grade at Lanier Middle School. The boy had read Gary Paulson's book, "Lawn Boy," about a boy his age who had started a successful lawn mowing business.

"The character in the book had a lot in common with my grandson ... not much money, hard working parents and a thirst for knowledge," Shelor said. "We started talking about what he could do to make money. His skill set was limited to football, playing the guitar and generally being a 12-year-old kid. We discussed how to get started, what was needed, how to secure business and the work ethic needed to start and finish a work day."

Last summer, Devon mowed lawns, painted decks, pressure washed decks and driveways, and cleaned up pet waste. During the process, Devon acquired equipment, learned more about the lawn care business from a local Toro dealer, opened a checking account and saved more than four figures. Before the end of 2013, the Shelors had formed an LLC and filed for a Peachtree Corners Business License.

"We are insured and open for business," said the elder Shelor, who thinks this story can encourage other young people who are willing to work and learn as they save money for higher education.

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