Keeping Business Interesting

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I’ve talked in previous articles about the workload and risk considerations with owning our own business. However, aside from running the company, we enjoy the tree servicing business and it has become a source of some of our most memorable and rewarding experiences. From emergency tree work to learning how to climb trees, there is humor in it all …

About six years ago, Steve was called out on an emergency tree job at 7 o’clock at night. It was dark out and there was a large Locust tree that fell on someone’s car. Steve was a one man show that night; just trying to block the tree out so the guys could come and clean everything up the next day. He had just finished cutting the limbs off the trunk when a man came out yelling that Steve made the tree fall on his car. Steve didn’t quite understand how he physically made the tree fall on top of his car, but come to find out, the man was mostly mad because he was on a blind date that night and had just arrived to the woman’s house to pick her up. After a couple minutes of talking (and soon laughing), the guy picked up a chain saw and proceeded to help Steve cut the remaining portion off his car…

just a babyLearning how to climb trees is physically taxing, can be emotionally draining, and occasionally funny… mostly for the people watching… rarely for the person doing the learning. A close friend of the company wanted to learn how to climb trees. For the sake of this story and his dignity, we will call him John. John is not an overweight man, but has a large muscled structure about him. Keep in mind that most of our best climbers are shorter more compact men; traits that allow for swiftness and speed when climbing trees. The first step to climbing is to learn how to climb up the tree and how to repel down the tree. John put on his harness and grabbed his safety rope, and started to try and pull himself up. Since tree climbers don’t spike like trees, he couldn’t use the trunk as a starting off point. He made it to his first limb and tuckered out; it took four of the guys to pull him half way up the tree. A little tidbit for you, there are lots of insects in trees and climbers either prepare ahead and cover their faces or they constantly swat at the flying varmints. John kept swinging at the bugs while gripping on to the tree. Hugo Giron, one our best climbers, now owner of Giron Tree Service, kept calling him King Kong, because he was so reminiscent of the gorilla climbing up the building. John just wasn’t as agile as King Kong. He finally called it quits and decided to repel down, but as he did so, the rope got hung up on one of the branches. He bounced up and down on the limb to try and free the rope. As he did that and made his last swing at a bug, the rope sawed through the limb and he fell to the ground. He wasn’t laughing at first, but the boys got him up, and kept mimicking King Kong climbing up the Eiffel Tower. By the end of it, they were all making fun of each other and sharing stories when they were learning…

henry as an adultAbout five years ago, one of the crews was out at a commercial property taking down a dead tree. The tree top had a hole in it and the wood was so rotted, that it caved in creating an overhang of the interior core. Just as Max, our crew chief, was about to make another cut to block the tree off, he heard a bunch of babies crying. Inside the tree, there were three newborn squirrels in a nest; they couldn’t be older than a couple of days. Max carefully pulled the babies from the nest and repelled down with them carefully tucked into the pocket of his shirt. Max called to a couple of the other guys and they found a box, put a blanket in it, and brought the babies home to me in the box. Unfortunately, one of squirrels died before I could get to them. The other two lived and we named them Rhubarb and Henry. I kept Ruby and Henry with me at the house for the first year and then Steve built them a release home in our back yard to gradually acclimate them to the outdoors and their soon to be wild life. At a year and a half old, we released them. Ruby promptly took off and became a wild squirrel. Henry, on the other hand, never left. He was free and came and went as he pleased, but he always came when I called him and he always wanted me to hug him and love on him. It was strange because I thought that once he was free, he too would become wild like Ruby did. That wasn’t the case though. Even when he was sick, he came home and we kept him indoors until he was well enough to leave again…

The tree business is interesting and it has been good to us. We are very blessed. Here is hoping too many more years of good times with the guys, memories that cannot be equaled in life had we chosen a different path. See you all next time.

Last modified: April 23, 2013
Nikki Hall
Nikki is the co-owner of Aspect Tree Service in Alexandria, VA. Learn about her business at www.aspecttreeservice.com


This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

Category: Insider's perspective, MPR Authored, Off the cuff, Small Business, Small Business Corner, small business owners

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