“To make change in the world, you need to be weird.” So says Patrick Brown, the owner of Rent Sons, a Rhode Island company offering help with odd jobs. By his own admission, he fits the bill. A Providence resident who grew up in Little Compton, he’s answering questions in his van, where he’s been living for the summer. “The van helps me be strange,” he jokes. If being strange allows him to do good, more power to him. As of now, Brown – the original “Son” of the now 60-plus Sons (workers) he employs – has helped more than 1,500 Rhode Island “Neighbors” (clients) with tasks around the yard and the house.
Even though they’re hired to perform basic labor, such as hauling appliances, shoveling, painting, and gardening, Brown classifies their services as “acts of selfless love and time spent together.” In addition to completing the job and getting paid (customers pay the company $30 per hour), Sons focus on strengthening their community – one that comprises the workers as well as the clients. Brown tells about a job the Sons recently completed, helping a longtime Neighbor groom his property to get it ready for his son’s marriage. “Can’t tell you the feeling that left me, and being able to share that with the Sons and Daughters working that wedding,” Brown says. The Neighbors are often affected as well. “I got a call from a random person crying, saying she was so thankful that, because of Rent Sons, ‘My parents are able to stay living in their home.’”
Forming lasting friendships and bonds is important to Brown, who left Fort Aqua, a successful “water special effects business,” because the music industry required him to tour. Feeling uprooted, he longed for life’s basics. “I missed my church, the local coffee shop. Seeing those people, building deep bonds, gave me such joy.” After returning to stability, he engulfed “a ton of books from all types of successful people and wrote book reports on everything” he learned. Then, Brown distilled that knowledge down to the essentials, which he highlighted in his yet-unpublished book, Life to the Full.
Working on the book caused him to have an epiphany. He realized that the odd jobs he took on to pay for college shaped his identity, and he needed to replicate the experience that allowed him “to know nearly everyone in my hometown and learn from them.” He started Rent Sons, the company whose tagline is “Serving Our Community.” Brown emphasizes the second part of the word: unity. “We need more acts of selfless love and time spent together,” he says.
His seven full-time employees now include a Daughter, Julia Doyle, the office manager. They recruit workers at churches and college campuses, offering them the ability to “explore what they want to do with their lives and grow more into the person they deeply desire to be.” Brown says he compensates them “very well” and has raised the pay rate 40 percent since the company’s 2017 start. He views his employees as friends, saying, “We are a team that works a ton together building the same vision.”