When I first started my career climbing trees nearly twenty years ago, tree climbers were pretty rough around the edges. We’re still a pretty maverick bunch, but the level of professionalism in our industry has grown exponentially in those years. So have the expectations of our customers. The housing boom saw huge interest in keeping beautiful, safe and usable gardens and landscapes, and concerns about climate change and urban decay brought a level of attention to trees and their value in our communities that has not been seen in generations. Whatever the context, not much has changed since the poet Joyce Kilmer wrote nearly a century ago: “I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree.”
Besides the decent paycheck, tree work held other appeals for me. I loved the adventure, and the camaraderie of working on a tree crew. I loved being outdoors, and in new locations day-to-day and week-to-week. I loved seeing inside of beautiful homes and gardens. And I still love all of those things.Eventually, I became the crew manager for the small company I was working for. My boss was Hal Roach, and he taught me more than how to climb and prune. He taught me a guiding philosophy that I have carried into my own business. Hal taught me to learn proper practices and techniques for the best reasons to do so: to best serve his customers, and to best provide stewardship for the beautiful trees that were part of his customers’ investment and home. He taught me to walk away from performing work that was contrary to his standards of proper practices. He taught me to cultivate a returning clientele, not just to go out hustling jobs. He taught me that a small, personal tree service was not only pleasing to his customers, it afforded him the pride of owning his own business.When Hal died, I wondered if my career in tree service was over, but I hit the pavement looking for work. I had tools, skills, and talent. I hired myself out to several tree companies in San Francisco. In short order, I learned a lot about how not to run a tree service that year. When I finally made the decision to work for myself, it seemed like a no-brainer. I knew I could run circles around half of the guys I’d met as a hired gun. The others were operating large-scale businesses that at the time didn’t fit my lifestyle. Hal had always taught me that many customers preferred dealing with a small, personal tree service, and I was determined to be that alternative to big companies operating at the time. And now even as my company grows, I’m committed to providing personal, professional and comprehensive service to a new generation of tree owners, and tree lovers.