Don’t be ‘that guy’ — tree care equipment advice and more
One of the most frequent questions we hear from individuals looking to break into the tree care market is, “What equipment do I absolutely need to get me started?” Tree Views talked with Matt Hutchinson, Vermeer Product Manager, to discuss what equipment purchases you may want to make before starting your own tree service company.
Finding the essentials
Hutchinson says although there is no clear-cut formula for the best starter equipment in a tree care business, he has a few pieces he would recommend finding first.
“From a tree care perspective, they’re absolutely going to need a chipper and a chip truck to pull the chipper and collect the chips for disposal,” Hutchinson said. “And whether it be a mini skid steer, a full-size skid steer or a steerable loader, you’ll need some type of larger equipment to remove heavier logs. Other than that, it’s chain saws and safety equipment.”
When it comes to buying new versus used equipment, Hutchinson said there are a few machines he’d recommend starting fresh with.
“We would always recommend starting out with a new chipper — chipping wood is definitely an abusive operation, so there tends to be a certain life limit for that machine based on how much and how long it’s used,” Hutchinson said. “Other things to buy new would be any safety equipment that gets you up into the trees — you want to be very confident that all the safety interlocks and hydraulics are in good condition.”
If you’re looking for a good crossover between a full takedown machine and a smaller model, Hutchinson says the Vermeer BC1500 brush chipper is the way to go.
“The BC1500 is great for someone who is going to depend on one chipper to meet 80 to 90 percent of their needs,” Hutchinson said. “It has a large enough capacity and high enough horsepower that if necessary it can chip up some of the larger logs – up to a 15-inch (38.1 cm) log – but on a day-to-day basis it’s also very productive on smaller branches and tree debris.”
Expanding your fleet
Once your tree care company becomes more established, adding to your fleet will become necessary to expand services and job-size capabilities.
“Once a tree care business owner becomes an established, certified arborist, and they’ve reached a point where they’re completing quality work — not just managing trees, but cutting stuff down — I think they will have reached a point where they might want to buy a few used pieces to expand their fleet,” Hutchinson said. “This would be a good time to buy a second used truck or a boom truck to help with hauling and reaching into the canopies. Also, maybe another skid to cut down on manual labor.”
As you begin to take on larger tasks, you may also need to search for a few heavy-duty equipment pieces.
“To conquer those really large trees, a lot of people want a large truck with a grapple,” Hutchinson said. “Not everything gets chipped anymore, so that’s a great way to haul things away to get processed for other wood purposes.”
For the toughest jobs, Hutchinson also recommends the AX19 brush chipper. The AX19 features dual horizontal feed rollers and a manual feed roller crushing system to help tree care contractors load and process large branches and logs with less work.
“For the businesses that start to get into the larger material jobs, a stump cutter will also be nice to have on hand rather than having to continually hire someone else with a stump cutter to clean up after them,” Hutchinson said. “The Vermeer SC362 and SC60TX stump cutters would be good models to incorporate to a complete tree maintenance and service business.”
Don’t be ‘that guy’ …
There’s no denying that tree equipment can be easy to come by, but Hutchinson stressed that anyone looking to start a new tree care business should take the extra time to become educated before buying equipment or taking on job requests.
“There are the guys that are looking to become professional arborists that take the time to go through proper training and certification programs, and then there’s the guys who don’t,” Hutchinson explained. “Anyone can get an old truck and chipper and slap a name on the side of it and call themselves a tree guy — but starting a business like that can do a lot of damage to the industry.”
Hutchinson advises prospective tree care professionals to seek out educational programs with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) and other certification programs. He also said new business owners should carefully plan out the scope of the services they plan to offer customers.
“For example, poor planning can lead you to invest in a chipper that’s too small, and it won’t allow you to tackle the work that’s in front of you,” Hutchinson said. “If you’re using smaller equipment to its capacity more often than it should, you will be prone to breakdowns and huge wear-and-tear issues.”
And last but not least: Make sure you’re buying equipment from trustworthy sources.
“When you buy Vermeer, our dealer network is trained and ready to help you grow your tree care business,” Hutchinson said. “We’re your partner through any issue, and we stand behind our equipment and our customers in regards to service and support.”
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