A Different Way of Operating a Tree Care Company
Unique approaches to managing a tree care business have helped Northwest Arbor-Culture Inc., — a Pacific coast tree care, landscape and consultation provider — expand services, produce guaranteed results and retain employees at an almost unheard of rate.
When Chris Nash started Northwest Arbor-Culture in 1999, he created and implemented a business model that he hoped would solve some of the problems associated with the high-risk industry of tree care, and allow his company to prosper and grow.
“Considering the high-risk nature of the tree care industry, I wanted to avoid the high-risk personalities often associated with this business,” says Nash, who formerly worked for the Oregon Department of Forestry. “My model creates a stable work environment that relies on promoting stable people as the foundation of our company. The shortest tenure of anyone currently on our crew is eight years, a rare feat in an industry with high turnover rates. Every member is a U.S. citizen and active in their communities.”
Northwest Arbor-Culture, whose offices are based near Portland, Ore., Seattle and San Diego, pays well, provides quality benefits, keeps its employees busy full time, offers educational and varied job opportunities and gives its employees a percentage of every project they work.
“I have not heard of another tree care company in this industry doing all these things for their employees,” says Nash. “It has worked great. If I was starting over today, I would not do anything different. I listen to what our staff has to say. They often come up with constructive ideas that are a big benefit to the company. We realize that we all have a stake in our company doing well.”
New crew members are hired for their skills in arboriculture, though through additional education and aptitude, they can expand their work opportunity into our landscape construction and consulting division. “Demand from our tree care clients opened our door for landscape construction. Our landscape specialties include decks, fences, patios, retaining walls, water features, irrigation systems and much more,” says Nash. “It was an easy transition, because we had the right people and the right equipment (including a versatile Vermeer® S600 mini skid steer). Landscape construction has worked out well.”
Northwest Arbor-Culture has relied on Vermeer brush chippers and stump cutters from the very start and today has several different sized machines. Northwest Arbor-Culture’s Vermeer chippers include the BC1000XL, BC1200XL, BC1800XL and BC2000XL. They enjoy the versatility of their Vermeer SC252 and SC502 stump cutters. “Quality tree care equipment has certainly played a role in employee productivity, safety and retention,” says Nash. “Since our staff receives a commission on every job they accomplish, efficient equipment is vital to all of us.” Another significant factor is the 100 percent guarantee that Northwest Arbor-Culture makes to all their customers.
“If our clients aren’t totally satisfied, we don’t accept a penny,” says Nash. “Each of our guys realizes we are not about to work all day and get a percentage of nothing, so we do whatever it takes to make sure our customers are satisfied. So far we have never not been able to satisfy a customer.”