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Clear Shores


Article by David Scheller

Photography by Clear Shores

Weeding the garden is hard work. Weeding where you cannot breathe is decidedly less convenient. This is why life is not all wine and roses for lakefront property owners, whose lakebeds turn into milfoil forests without regular upkeep.

That was Max Lauerman and Austin Roberts’ realization when they came up with the idea for Clear Shores in 2018. They pitched the business as juniors during a Shark Tank style competition held at Minnetonka High School. Impressed by the enterprising youths’ extensive research on invasive species and 30-page business plan, the judges declared Max and Austin the winners.

Could their winning idea for a business turn into an actual winning business? Max and Austin determined to find out when they partnered with Zack Navratil, their former classmate, to co-found Clear Shores LLC last year.

“I have to be honest with you,” Zack confided. “I didn’t take school nearly as seriously as my business partners. I spent my only year in college partying, and I got a landscaping job soon afterward. You can imagine my readiness when I was offered to join Clear Shores. That was my opportunity to spend more time at my favorite place – the water – while helping to build a company from the ground up. Here I discovered my passion for providing great customer service!

“We’ve developed a truly environmentally friendly solution to lakebed management. Our commitment goes beyond thoroughly cleaning our equipment between uses. We also refuse to use ‘milfoil munchers’: giant machines which disturb native fish populations, send weed fragments floating off in every direction, and create a lot of noise pollution. We also don’t use chemicals. Even weed killer that’s been branded as ‘safe’ can harm fish and the good native plants, and it ultimately just turns underwater weeds into dead sludge. Any Minnesotan will tell you they don’t enjoy swimming in muck!

“That’s why we do everything by hand. Our PADI certified dive crews go straight to the lake bottom. Wherever we find invasive plants like Eurasian millfoil, curly-leaf pondweed, purple loosestrife and flowering rush, we pull them out right by their roots. Our process cannot eliminate weeds for good, but it does significantly decrease weed density while discouraging future growth. We finally wheelbarrow our ‘harvest’ to our truck so we can drive it to The Mulch Store in Minnetrista. That lets the water weeds do something productive: become mulch and fertilizer.

“Once we have hand-cleared a lakebed, we weed and tidy up the surrounding beach. We’ve pulled everything out of the sand you can imagine: tires, broken bottles, engine blocks, an old septic tank (which was graciously empty), and even a whole wooden boat. Our waterfront clients also count on us for invasive zebra mussel removal, as well as for dock insertion, removal and general maintenance. Our divers even perform lost item searches, and can’t wait for the day when we reunite someone with their wedding band.

“With so many lakes surrounding our Excelsior headquarters, we’ve already found a healthy demand for our waterfront maintenance services. In addition to over 100 homeowners, we have so far worked for Howard's Point Marina, Caribbean Marina and Gas Dock, and The Mist Apartment Homes on Lake Minnetonka. 

“Our goal is to grow Clear Shores until it one day becomes national – ‘the TruGreen of lakefront properties.’ We’re a little apprehensive about expanding into the Southern United States, though. It’s beautiful down there, but scuba certification classes don’t teach you how to fight off hungry gators.

“We currently have one dozen employees. Supporting a roster that size means we can’t exclusively focus on lakefronts, but that’s okay by us. So long as we’re working outside, we’re content.

“We were once dubbed ‘mercenary grandsons’ by one of our clients. They were joking about how the Clear Shores team will take care of any landscaping projects our customers could need. We’re the ones to rely on for lawn care, mulching, spring and fall clean-ups, snow removal, soil aeration, sprinkler system maintenance, wood stacking, hornet nest removal – if it’s hard work and you can name it, we’re happy to do it for you. It doesn’t even matter if it’s not the original reason we came to your home!

“We’re just a bunch of guys who are eager to earn our places in the world, and we sure do work like it. All of our advertising so far has consisted of doorknocking and word of mouth. We’ll beat any other landscaping or general labor company’s prices, too, so you’re always guaranteed the lowest bid so long as you ask Clear Shores.

“Do I love what I do? All of our full-time employees are also our lifelong friends, and we spend every day helping Minnesotans enjoy more beautiful properties. I have to be honest with you,” Zack confided. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Do you need lake weed removal? Do you need beach maintenance? Do you need landscaping? Do you need snow plowing and shoveling? Do you need a team of handsome young men to do whatever you ask at your property, within reason? Then you need Clear Shores, which combines distinctly Midwestern creativity and industriousness to any homeowner’s benefit. Learn more today at, or call (952) 843-3751 to request immediate service.

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