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Teen hatches cold-blooded business

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Eighteen-year-old Luke Habel loves reptiles and wants others to learn about the mysteries of enjoying and caring for them.

Habel, a graduate this spring from LCCVI in Petrolia, has a houseful of 17 bearded dragons, geckos and a few ball pythons.

His most prized reptile is a seven-year-old iguana named Mojo that he rescued two years ago.

“If you know what you are doing, reptiles are good pets,” says Habel, who lets four-foot Mojo crawl across his back and hang from his arm.

“I’ve never been bitten by any of them.”

Someday Hamel hopes to run his own petting zoo and pet store, so when his school counsellor told him about the Ontario government’s Summer Company Program, he applied.

Habel is among 14 local youth, aged 15 to 29, who have been provided $3,000 to operate their own summer businesses this year.  He received $1,500 upfront to launch “Griffen and Friends Reptile Petting Zoo,” a company that attends special events of all kinds with Habel’s collection of reptiles.

For $100, he will provide an hour of education and “mingling time” with his scaly friends.  The company is named after the first lizard that Habel acquired.

He’s accepting bookings and Habel – who is bilingual – has already been hired for an event he’ll present in French.

He’s available for parties, camps and just about any other kind of special occasion. For an extra $50, he’ll stay for a photo session as well.

Griffen and Friends Reptile Petting Zoo can be reached by calling 519-331-0047 or by emailing [email protected].

The Summer Company Program is funded through the Ministry of Small Business and Entrepreneurship and administered locally by the Business Enterprise Centre of Sarnia-Lambton.

It has been around for about eight years and attracted more applicants than ever this summer, says program co-ordinator Chantelle Core.

“We’re normally allocated money for 12 students but got extra because of the demand,” she said.  At the end of the summer, successful businesses receive the other $1,500 of their grant, plus they keep all proceeds generated by their company.

Others that were approved for 2014 include:

–        Music Moment, operated by Christina Langstaff;

–         Westfield Automation, operated by Jayson Scott-Westfield;

–         Sarnia Student Painting, operated by Kalen Helinga;

–         In Home Computer Expert, operated by Luke Westelaken;

–         Pop! A lot of Popcorn Bar, operated by Rachael Simon;

–         Grand Soleil Summer Education, operated by Tracy Beaucage;

–         The Silent Human Chocolate Company, operated by Raeven Ramirez;

–         Go Go Gelato Ice Cream Peddler, operated by Antonio Adamo;

–         Sinclair Summer Softball Camp, operated by Courtney Sinclair;

–         Alex Whitson Post Holes, operated by Alex Whitson;

–         Eagle Eye Aerial Photography, operated by Saba Siddiqui;

–         Eager Beaver Stump Removal, operated by Trevor McLaughlan; and

–         Hockey Stick Coat Racks, operated by Kyle Culliton.


For details about any of the Summer Company Programs, contact Chantelle Core at the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership (519) 332-1820.

– George Mathewson

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