As the school year comes to a close, my friend Emily Sandy reached out to Sky Simpson and his father Steve Simpson to talk about their mailbox business, SkyBoxes! (View a Fox59 feature of them here!) They have a super unique business with a beautiful cause, so I hope you enjoy the Q&A! -Chloe
What is SkyBoxes?
Steve Simpson: SkyBoxes is a very small company-owned business that provides employment opportunities for our son that has a disability.
Can you tell me a little bit about SkyBoxes?
Senior Stephen “Sky” Simpson: We paint the posts. We pull out the old posts and (replace it) with a new post and then put a mailbox on top (of it) with nails and screws.
What inspired you guys to start SkyBoxes?
Steve Simpson: (My wife and I) are always concerned with what is going to hap
pen with Sky after high school and what kind of job opportunities he’ll have. Sky and lots of individuals with intellectual disabilities (need) lots of repetition to succeed at something, so the earlier that you start of job skills, the better off you will be, so (the reason) we started it two and a half years ago was to get him started (on) getting job skills early.
Could you run through a typical scenario of your job?
Steve Simpson: Typically, a person calls us and says, “our mailbox needs to be replaced, can you do it?” So we go up on Google Maps up on the internet and find out what the Home Owner’s Association requirements are and we look at Google Maps to see what mailbox they have now and we see if we can provide that same set. Typically, we can but sometimes we can’t. When we can, we let them know when we can do it and then give them a price. Once they’ve agreed to that price, we call and order the materials, then we call 811 and have the underground utilities marked. Once the materials are ready and the underground utilities are marked, we go out and pull out the old post and put in the new one and attach the new box to the new post. Sky is huge about pulling out old posts, by the way. He’s not about the attaching of the box, he just wants to be the guy who shows off his muscles. Pulling one of those things out is like pulling almost 100 pounds, and he just goes and rocks it back and forth many times to pull it right out of the ground. Just absolutely amazing. But, he’s perfect for that part of the job. He loves to talk to the customers as well, he really does a great job at it too. He’s a self-advocate, proving that he can work and stay on task and that he can learn the individual job tasks from start to finish.
How do you advertise for SkyBoxes?
Steve Simpson: All of it is just done through my Facebook, but then Fox59 (found out about us through) a reporter about four years ago that was doing an article on Best Buddies. They interviewed Sky and Molly (Schaefer, Sky’s peer), and I, and I mentioned SkyBoxes so she put it in the newspaper, and then a Fox59 specials intern saw it. They sent a guy out to interview us and he did a video about our business.
How do you think SkyBoxes will impact Sky in the future?
Steve Simpson: I think that he is learning self-discipline, I think that he is learning communication skills, he’s learning occupation and physical therapy goals, he’s using fine motor skills and gross motor skills, so he can manipulate fine and little screws and he can manipulate large machines like digging with shovels, so he is learning job skills. He’s learning to communicate with customers as well as appropriate behaviors, so it’s just astounding all the way around.
What advice would you give to another student that would want to start a small business or something like this?
Steve Simpson: The hardest part of starting a small business is getting the idea, the actual idea generation is the very hardest part. The way we did it is we saw the person across the street get their mailbox replaced. I saw them and for some reason, it just hit me that (Sky) could do most of those tasks associated with that. I talked to a couple of guys about it and they said, “Man, you got it, just go for it,” so we did! And it took off, I mean we are constantly getting telephone calls to come get their mailboxes repaired by us, especially once they hear about it. The customers feel really good about giving us business because they know that it’s helping Sky and they know that they are helping people down in Indianapolis with recovery and job skills. The toughest part is the idea of the job and the idea of the business—the little kernel of knowledge is the toughest part, too. To find something that you think you can succeed at and still have fun while doing it. Those are the two keys.
Sky Boxes mainly works in Carmel. You can find more information by calling Sky Boxes at (317) 989-7588.
Want to be interviewed and have your small business promoted? Email [email protected]