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Riverside Props keeps growing

Jake Lodewegen's first job came at the age of 14, so it should come as no surprise that now, the 23-year-old runs two businesses.

Ten years ago, while fishing the walleye opener with family near Orr, Lodewegen and the owner of the fishing resort got to talking. When the resort owner found out Lodewegen was 14, he casually extended a job offer to the youngster.

"Now that you are 14, you could work here now," the man told the Hastings boy.

"I said, 'I'll do it,' and he signed me up," Lodewegen said.

That summer, he moved away from home and was a dock boy for the resort.

While he was in high school, Lodewegen started Quality Conveyors, which builds conveyors for the food industry.

Now, Lodewegen can be found early most morning and late most nights in a shop behind his parent's home fixing boat propellers. Four years ago he started Riverside Props, and he has been busy fixing props ever since.

"I like the sound of being my own boss," said Lodewegen, a 2005 Hastings graduate. "It is that instant gratification that I like, I guess."

The idea to get into the prop repair business came during a big walleye tournament on the Mississippi River near Red Wing several years ago. Lodewegen was hanging out at the bait shop, talking with a friend, when two anglers came in with a broken propeller. They needed it repaired as quickly as possible.

Lodewegen told them he was a welder, but had never fixed a prop before. The fact that he was a welder was all they needed to hear.

"I told them, 'I can certainly help you guys out, but it may not be perfect,'" Lodewegen said.

Lodewegen took the blade and the rest of the prop back to his shop behind his parent's home on Neil Path and got to work. Soon after, he drove back down to Red Wing and delivered the prop to the anglers, who were thrilled they could get back out on the water and run their big motor.

One month later, Lodewegen was in an airplane on his way to Florida to attend a school to become certified in prop repair. He came back, then began a search to acquire the equipment needed to start a business. He found a man in Georgia who was selling all his tools, so Lodewegen drove south, picked up the tools and opened his doors.

"I had a truck and a trailer full of stuff, and I got started," he said. "I enjoy welding, and saw that this may be a good venture for me."

"It's a goofy thing," Lodewegen said. "Most people are pretty interested, and intrigued. A lot of people think you have to go buy a new propeller. This is, usually, half the cost."

Lodewegen does sell new props and also does skeg repairs.

Most of the repairs Lodewegen gets are from driveway accidents, he said. Many times, boaters will forget to raise their motors and drag their props and skegs on the driveway while backing their boats into the driveway.

To reach Riverside Props, call 651-226-0805.