Cleaves owned a machine shop. He was a talented man with machines, always tinkering and repairing, inventing and manufacturing parts.
He was innovative in other ways too, when it came to maintenance. Once when the evergreens in front of his house died, he spray painted them green. Another time, he used fabric dye to spray paint a couch which had faded.
He was continually buying and selling, everything from lawn mowers, to boats, to houses.