Oil City boy’s venture is all in effort to help his big brother

A 7-year-old Oil City entrepreneur is on a mission to make money, which is no different than that of anyone else in business — regardless of age.

However, his goal is not raise money for personal profit. Rather, it’s to benefit his 12-year-old brother, who has severe autism.

“I want to go to Thomas Land with him and pay for the trip,” says Titus Eddy, the creator of Sweet T Enterprises, a candy-vending machine business that places machines in businesses in the Oil City, Franklin and Erie areas.

Both Titus and brother Robby love Thomas Town, a thematic area of Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh that is based on Thomas the Tank Engine. In fact, Titus and Robby’s father, Robert Eddy, can be seen in one of the Kennywood website photographs from the Flynn’s Fire Training attraction in Thomas Town.

“I love Thomas the Tank Engine,” said Titus of his passion, which is fueled by the big collection of Thomas trains and tracks his family owns.

Although the family has season passes to Waldameer Park & Water World in Erie, Titus really wanted to take Robby to Thomas Town.

“He was asking all these questions like, ‘How much is the hotel?’ So I said, ‘How about you cover the tickets and we’ll cover the hotel?’” said his mother, Heather.

Little boy, big dream

How could a 7-year-old fund such an entrepreneurial goal at his age?

Titus, a homeschooler who also attends the Good Shepherd Montessori School in Titusville three days a week, has a strong affinity to business entrepreneurship.

“He’s been asking for a business since he was 5,” Heather Eddy said. “He wanted a business for Christmas.”

Titus’ interest in business could have something to do with his parents. His mother has a background in property management and real estate, and works in transportation for the Oil City School District; his father raises Doberman Pinschers.

Robert Eddy also believes his son’s interest also could have been influenced by the Montessori school, which encourages students to pursue their interests and learn at their own pace.

Titus initially wanted a claw-machine business, but his family advised him to start with something smaller and less expensive than the prize-dispensing apparatus.

So Titus got his first gumball machine for Christmas in 2022, and immediately started saving up to buy more.

“I kind of drug my feet,” Robert Eddy said. “I thought, ‘He’s 5, going on 6. He’s going to forget about this in two weeks.’ But he didn’t quit.”

Saving his money

For fourteen months, Titus saved all his money from doing chores, helping with his father’s business of raising Dobermans, and even a side gig selling items through his father’s eBay account. “He didn’t spend a dime,” Robert Eddy said.

After saving up about $900, he bought two more vending machines from Amazon.

“That’s when we had a talk with him,” Robert Eddy said. “We said, ‘If we gave you a loan … let’s do seven more machines, and go from there.’”

With a $700 loan from his parents, Titus and his father traveled to upstate New York to buy seven machines from a successful vendor, who also gave Titus some tips of the trade.

And now, five of the 10 machines have already found homes, with more locations in the works.

Let’s make a deal

Showing up in a business suit and toting a briefcase, Titus takes a contract with him when he pitches to a business and then lays out the terms.

It’s agreed 10% of the candy proceeds goes to Titus’ fund for Robby; 10% goes to the business that houses the machine, which can either keep the proceeds or donate them to the Robby fund; and the remaining 80% goes back into Titus’ business, for product replacement and expansion.

So far, Titus said all of the businesses have opted to donate their 10% cut to Sweet T Enterprises.

The family has taken Titus to city halls and courthouses to find out what’s legally required, including securing the required mercantile licenses.

“We’re trying to teach him to do everything right,” Heather Eddy said.

The first business to get a machine was Chris’ Tire Service in Seneca, and — so far — three Franklin businesses: Razor’s Edge Hair Salon, West Park Guitar and Music, and Bindas Lane Alpacas. They were joined Tuesday by Fat Guys Pizza Deli in Seneca.

“He presented me with his sales pitch, gave me the whole rundown, what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, to help his brother who has autism; and I thought it was an amazing idea,” said Tony Neidich, owner of West Park Guitar.

“Titus’ parents have instilled some great values in him, and obviously he’s learning a lot. I’ve never met an entrepreneur as young as him who came up with the idea.”

One of Titus’ machines is at the Noe’ Noonan School of Cosmetology in Erie, since the family frequently travels to Erie to take Robby to the Barber National Institute, which provides behavioral health and intellectual disabilities services to children and adults.

Loving brother

Robby is nonverbal, said his mother, and from an early age, Titus has been concerned about taking care of his brother and raising awareness about his condition. Though younger by five years, Titus, in many ways, acts the role of big brother.

“Titus would talk for him, explain that he was autistic,” Heather Eddy said. “He’d apologize for (Robby’s) outbursts, and ask people if they knew what autism is.”

Robert Eddy said Titus has asked “quite a few times, ‘How’s Robby going to make money?’ And we have to explain, ‘Well, he doesn’t, we have to help him.’ He’s already inserted Robby into his future family. He says, ‘I’m going to take care of Robby.’”

Titus said he still wants to get claw machines, and eventually he wants to start an arcade in Oil City — but concedes he first needs a lot more gumball machines. “About a hundred,” he estimates.

He’s well on his way, with his own business card and a Facebook page. Sweet T Enterprises can be contacted at 813-394-0235.

“He’s putting his ambitions out there,” Heather Eddy said. “I’m proud of him.”