Vermeer equipment a constant in UK tree care business’ evolving operation
Tree care is in Peter Payne’s blood. He’s the fourth generation of his family to serve his region’s residential and commercial tree care needs, and though some aspects of the business have changed considerably since the days of his great-grandfather, a few things remain the same, including the reliance on good equipment with the durability and longevity to help get the job done time after time.
Peter’s great-grandfather started what is today M. D. Payne and Son in the early 20th century, providing tree care to the area around New Alresford, England, just north of Southampton and northeast of Brighton, both on the English Channel, and around 112.7 kilometers (70 miles) southwest of London. The idyllic town of “color-washed houses” that was once home of 18th-century novelist Jane Austen has just over 6,000 residents today and sits in an area rich in British history and known as the nation’s capital of the production of watercress, a leafy plant commonly used in salads or as a garnish.
But it’s the area’s trees that are the right milieu for Peter, whose great-grandfather and father worked in the tree care business before him. His grandfather was involved in tree care until World War II, when he became involved in the construction and fabrication industry. Peter has managed the 40-year-old family business for the past 20 years, and in that time, he’s long relied upon Vermeer machinery — namely stump cutters— to tend to his region’s tree care needs.
“The first machine my father, Michael Payne, bought after seeing it on a brochure was the SC665 stump cutter in 1978,” Peter said. “Approximately two years later he bought the SC630A and in 1985 or 1986 he bought the SC186. Somewhere in the 1990’s, dad bought a second-hand 1560 stump cutter. In 2000 I bought my first stump cutter, a SC665B and in 2007 I bought the SC50TX. This was replaced later by the SC60TX in 2008 and I have run a SC60TX ever since.”
The tree care industry has changed in the almost century since his family’s been a part of it in southern England. His own family’s business management strategies have changed, too, both out of necessity and to meet the evolving needs of his largely residential customers. He says his father worked to “make enough to cover costs and make a living,” and credits his business savvy and willingness to “outwork anybody” for sustaining the business in what was a difficult time for the whole industry in southern England. Fairness is one constant for the Payne family business, though the definition of that word continues to evolve.
“My father knew what he needed to do and knew what he had to earn to get by. If you ask anybody in the trade here, they’ll tell you he would outwork anybody,” Peter said. “He was extremely fair. Sometimes he would allow people to pay for work in installments. It was a different time then, but I strive to be as good of a businessman as he was.”
While his business philosophy is directed primarily at treating his customers fairly, Peter also puts a high priority on fairness for his employees. The workforce has changed immensely since his father’s generation, and having the right workers makes all the difference for Peter today. It’s also one of his biggest challenges.
“I think the toughest thing is managing people and finding the right people,” he said. “I’m lucky to have the people I have. I’m proud of that. It’s good to have people who are respectful and know how to do the work.”
Part of what’s enabled Peter to focus so much on fairness to his customers and employees is the consistency and dependability of his Vermeer equipment. The family business has used Vermeer equipment for the entire 40 years and Peter now owns an ever-evolving combination of stump cutters, brush chippers and mini skid steers.
“Vermeer machines help keep the business together and keep the work coming in,” Peter said. “They make my life a lot easier.”
This article contains third-party observations, advice or experiences that do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Vermeer Corporation, its affiliates or its dealers. Testimonials and/or endorsements by customers in specific circumstances may not be representative of normal circumstances experienced by all customers.
Vermeer Corporation reserves the right to make changes in engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at any time without notice or obligation. Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region.
Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications.
Vermeer and the Vermeer logo are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries. © 2019 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.