ArboristSite.com Sponsors
 
 


Advice needed for starting a tree service business.

Discussion in 'Arborist 101' started by Glaze, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. Glaze

    Glaze ArboristSite Lurker

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    California
    I'm located in Utah. I need some advice on starting a tree service and tree removal business here in Utah.

    1. What are the best books and videos on actually doing the work and running this type of business?

    2. What is the right amount of equipment for starting out and how many people really are needed on most jobs for doing the job and covering all safety concerns.

    3. I will not be taking out any type of loan for anything, but I do have a $5,000.00 tax return coming in three months. I already have a truck and a trailer with two chainsaws. I want to start out in the business owning everything I have and grow bigger slowly over time. Eventually I'd like to just bid jobs and have employees doing all the work, but this would be a few years down the road.

    4. What are the good ways to make money in this business that are not thought of as part of the business. Selling fire wood?

    Thanks for any help.

    Mike
     
  2. Koa Man

    Koa Man Kahuna giganticus

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2003
    Messages:
    1,543
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Kailua Hawaii
    I started out with just a pickup truck and a couple of saws and little knowledge of climbing and the proper way to prune trees. I almost killed myself a couple of times because of it. I strongly discourage anyone from following the path I did, even though I consider my business very successful today (20 years later). The ISA and TCIA have many videos and books and you could easily spend your $5000 on those alone. A good tree saddle, gaffs (for removals only), ropes, rigging gear, pole saws and pruners, handsaws, pulleys, loop runners, carabiners etc. will easily eat up all of your start up money. You also need to carry insurance. Just one piece of my rigging gear, the GRCS, cost $2500. This is not a business that you can properly equip for $5000. I would strongly suggest you work for a good tree company for at least 3 months to get an idea of what this is all about. You will be able to make a better decision on whether you really want to get in the tree business and if so, what equipment or gear to buy.
     
  3. Mr_Brushcutter

    Mr_Brushcutter ArboristSite Operative

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Messages:
    290
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Hertfordshire, England
    Attempt number 3 at a reply! keep on clicking wrong buttons.

    Setting up a business is a lot of work and on a $5000 budget probally not possable. Although not an acurate comparison i don't think i could set up a tree business where i am in the UK for less than $400,000 but since economic climates are different and locations its not a true comparison. Give you an idea of the money involved though.

    Since you would be a business you would need to ask these questions
    1. Check there is a market
    2. Check the compertition
    3. How can your service be the best

    You would also need to look into legal aspects as well:
    would you need a commercial drivers licence
    Would you need an arborists licence
    What level of insurance is required 1million 5million 10million?

    You will need insurance which would eat up your budget i'd expect. As for gear you'd need PPE for you and your crew (yes crew you'd need at least 1 for safety). Your couple of saws would have to have chainbreaks or otherwise i don't think you can use them.

    You don't say if you've had any experence with working with trees so sorry if you have. Theres a lot to this tree work game and it requires a lot of training i've spent close to your budget on training! But your offering a tree care service so you'll need to be able to ID trees, ID diseases, Prune trees properly. You'd need to learn about rigging what you use and when? You'll need to know about tree felling and climbing areial rescue. Experence in all of this is a must really like Koa Man said industry experence is a must.

    Waste what you going to do with that burn it in the yard, sell if for fire wood, dump it, chip it?

    As for equipment you'd need
    PPE-Chainsaw boots trousers and gloves, hard hat, personal first aid kit. Team first aid kit
    Clean up gear - rakes brooms blower etc
    Chainsaws - What do you need for the jobs your gunna do? If you have a MS180 and a MS290 your going to run into problems with big trees. A chainsaw on a stick is a good investment too.
    Hand tools - loppers secatures pole pruners pruning saws pruning knife etc
    Climbing gear - you'll need a set and a set for a rescue, you may even need to lines in each set.
    Rigging gear- ropes blocks pullys etc

    Running a tree business is a big game and i don't think for 5 grand you'd be able to do it safely.
     
  4. skwerl

    skwerl Will Climb for food

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2005
    Messages:
    977
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    I'm not going to beat on the same dead horse as the others, I know of very few who got into treework with more than $5000 of gear to start. But I will tell you that your lack of experience will be your biggest stumbling block. If you know how to do the work then you don't need to ask what you should buy. Owning a bunch of equipment you bought off a list isn't going to make you a treeman.

    Good luck and I wish you good luck and safety as you learn what you're doing.
     
  5. treeseer

    treeseer Advocatus Pro Arbora

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2004
    Messages:
    6,756
    Likes Received:
    258
    Location:
    se usa
    "I need some advice on starting a tree service and tree removal business"

    Glaze, the first question might be: why? What is there about the work that you think you will enjoy it enough to succeed?

    Second question: Are there way too many trees in your area, and no one else to cut them down? Most areas have too few trees, not too many, so why be part of the problem? Koa's advice is best; get to know the business first by working at it.

    I couldn't start a carpentry business with a truck, two hammers and $5k. Tree work is VERY gear- and training- intensive.
     
  6. begleytree

    begleytree H. sapiens moderatus

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Messages:
    2,870
    Likes Received:
    347
    Location:
    Ohio
    My story
    Can it be done on $5K, sure. I started out 5 years ago with a pickup, 6x12 trailer, 009 and 028, used rope and saddle, $150, and a very recent divorce.
    But, and you haven't clarified this, I was born into this biz, started climbing power ROW at 14, and started my own biz at 30, so I had 15 years climbing already, and had Ohio pesticide lic. and isa arborist cert, along with BS in ag sci.
    5 years later, things are a lot easier, and better. pretty well equipped, better than some here but not as well as some others.
    Would I do it all over again? in a heartbeat. was it hard? you bet-harder!
    With stark honesty, I can say I'm a much better treeman than buisnessman. A couple years ago I hired a biz coach, but paying him $1100 a month so he could ask me questions wasn't getting anywhere, so I quit that. I paid to send the new wife to buisness college, she helps a lot with the paper and books.
    can I tell you what will work for you every step of the way? unfortunately no. A lot of biz suggestions I read here I've tried before and found they don't work for me. Every biz and area is different.
    Other factors come into play, such as weather. I took the plunge in '03 and bought a chip truck and chipper. 2 weeks later we were hit with a huge ice storm. That really helped that year, and hurt the next as the trees I would have cared for the next year were trimmed or removed due to ice. '03 was huge, '04 was slow, real slow, 05 is back on track.
    You are probably in better financial shape starting out than I was then, but a lot worse off experience-wise.
    There are a million ways to go broke in this biz, and a few ways to do well. Thats probably true for all buisnesses. IMO, there's a lot of easier ways to lose $5K. But the rewards of success or worth it too.
    Think long and hard. Be very realistic with yourself and family before jumping in. My first wife wanted the security of the $350 weekly paycheck, my second wife was raised in a sole prop home, and was looking for someone with that drive and ability. she has been a godsend with the understanding and trust. imo, Theres a LOT of variables to consider.
    -Ralph
     
  7. JohnVander

    JohnVander ArboristSite Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Western Washington
    My question to you would be what do you know now? Do you have a backround in horticulture, do you know how to prune small trees? Their are different avenues to pursue in the tree biz. If you know very little go to work for the best guy you can find, and get the tree climbers guide by Lilly. Also remember low and slow.

    John
     
  8. Redbull

    Redbull AboristSite Guru

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2004
    Messages:
    934
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Kansas City, MO
    This is the Arborist 101 forum, take it easy on the guy. I started my business with exactly what he has and only 6 mos experience in ROW work. I read a LOT about proper pruning techniques and most importantly, safe work practices. It can be done if you have the desire to do it. I highly recommend working for another reputable tree care company before jumping in the biz.
     
  9. sheisonthemoon

    sheisonthemoon ArboristSite Lurker

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2005
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ny, now in arkansas
    We all started somewhere, but honestly now Glaze did'nt mention any experience. I wish him the all the luck but i certainly dont want to pat him on the back and tell him that everything is going to be great. A tree service is'nt like opening a hot dog stand in central park. It requires education,experience, patience,dedication.
    We are driven to our work. I learned from my husband everything i know (which i wont claim to be much) but I know from 12 years of watching him get up at 4 am to get to the shop checking equipment and sharping saws, making sure everything is right before the employees come, making sure that he is there doing the work and getting the jobs done right. Its commitment to his profession that he takes pride in. Not being a drive around boss and barking orders to his employees.
    Perhaps I was harsh but I cant help but feel slightly insulted . So my apoligies for my rant .
     
  10. Redbull

    Redbull AboristSite Guru

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2004
    Messages:
    934
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Kansas City, MO
    No prob, I see your position. It sounds like your husband has the work ethic that is needed to be succesful in any business. I hope Glaze heeds all of this advice and is succesful one day, but it won't happen overnight.
     
  11. lumberjach

    lumberjach ArboristSite Operative

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2005
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    chattanooga
    Educate yourself and get experience! There is plenty of money to be made. Dont be in a big hurry to make it. Enough people have been hurt. I would recomend working with another company and starting on the ground. Then work your way up into the tree. If you are itching to get into a tree I would recomend Arbormaster training. This would be a good way to spend some of that five grand. You could then start out as a freelance climber starting at say $25 an hour with a four hour minnimum. With this experience and knowledge you could train someone to run a crew for you. I would also recomend getting involved with the I.S.A. Good luck
     
  12. Tree Machine

    Tree Machine Addicted to ArboristSite

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2002
    Messages:
    4,308
    Likes Received:
    131
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    You've been getting a lot of good advice so far, nothing bad. You'll just have to sort out what you intuitively feel will work for you.

    I have purposefully kept my overall system at a beginner's level, though the climbing skills I've taken as far as my human form will allow. Education never takes a day off and to fully embrace this industry you need to commit to a continuous quest for learning, whatever form that might take. A first good place to start (and this you can launch in under 10 minutes) is a subscription to the TCIA trade journal (free, just call and ask) and a subsciption to Tree Services, upper right of this page.

    For $5,000 ? Come to Indianapolis and rent one of the houses down the street from me. Income starts the day following your arrival, and I could really, really use the help from someone committed to entering this industry and learning the skills. Like I say, my systems are compact, basic and 'beginner' in outer shell but as advanced as I can make them inside. I like noobs and don't mind working within a noob system just to stay close to my beginnings; high profit, low overhead, heavily dependent on the climbing skills, PPE and choice of cutting and personal rigging equipment.

    I'll be home from vacation around the 20th of January.
     
  13. Tree Machine

    Tree Machine Addicted to ArboristSite

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2002
    Messages:
    4,308
    Likes Received:
    131
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    PS Don't sell firewood. Maybe later on down the road if it fits in. Early on it will hold you back from more valuable experiences. Much more 'profit' if you can find someone to come take it away from the jobsite for free (win-wins are sustainable relationships), and that's generally not hard to do.
     
  14. Glaze

    Glaze ArboristSite Lurker

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    California
    To everyone that posted above. It's all good advice to me and that is why I asked. I know this is dangerous work and takes many skills to be excellent at it and safe at the same time. My dad owns a small roofing company and he pays $2,000.00 for insurance coverage a year. He told me Tree service companies pay $3,000.00 and up for insurance coverage because the insurance companies consider that far more dangerous work. Which it is, a guy climbing a tree with a chain saw and cutting a tree down. That is far more dangerous than roofing.

    I have zero experience in the tree service business. Sure I have cut trees down, but not in someones backyard next to a house. I have zero climbing experience with the proper equipment.

    Why am I putting some research into this? I'm going to get into chainsaw lumbermaking. I can establish a relationship with some tree service companies for logs which I have already done, but the one's that are willing to let me pick up the logs for free cut up the logs into small pieces(so they can throw them into the truck) which is not good for making long lumber. So I get the bright idea of starting a tree service business to get paid for removing the logs I want and cutting them up into lumber when I get a job with the right tree. Anything left over would be firewood. I know there is a huge learning curve here, with expensive equipment needed, strong safety concerns required and expensive insurance mandatory. Still I'm at ground zero pretty much and just asking advice. Basically the best way to break into the business sounds like working for another tree service business for a few months to get some experience.

    In Utah there are several tree service companies doing very well. This area has about 1.5 million people living withing a hundred mile area. Plenty of trees in peoples yards to prune and remove. People have planted many different types of trees in there yards here that are not native to this state. The business is there, but in the winter business drops off big time and I'm aware of this also.

    Maybe I'm smarter to just establish a good relationship with a tree service business and get logs from them than go through all the work to start such a business. Any business is tough regardless of what you choose to do and the tree service business may just be far more dangerous than most. I still want to consider all my options. I'd like to read some books on the subject also that give the best and safest way to do the work.

    Thanks

    Glaze
     
  15. Glaze

    Glaze ArboristSite Lurker

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    California
    Redbull

    I don't think they are being tough on me, just realistic. Climbing trees with a chainsaw can be extremely dangerous. Doing it well next to a customers house without hurting yourself or damaging anything takes skill. Skills I don't have today, but I'm not new to cutting down trees or running chainsaws.

    If I decide to work for a good tree care company then I'd still like to read some books on the subject and watch some videos also before I start on day one. Not all companies are perfect or spend allot of time with proper training. I'm not against going to school for this to get certified.

    Mike
     
  16. Glaze

    Glaze ArboristSite Lurker

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    California
    I'm in no hurry. I'm 37 years old and I'm not new to running a business. Arbormaster training sounds good to me and then going to work for another tree service business would work. Eventually I would want to run my own business, have employees doing the work with me taking care of the business and doing the bidding. In the winter when the work slows down I see keeping good employees as being a tough job. This is a concern for me. Once you find a good employee I would want that guy making good money year round and this is why I mentioned selling firewood. Some of the tree service businesses around here send employees out to deliver and stack firewood. I know it can't be very profitable at around $150.00 a cord.

    Keeping employees working year round and making good money will take more than selling firewood in the winter. Some of the guy's on here have to have several things going to get them through the winter months, so what are some of the things that bring in the money through the cold months in this type of business?

    Thanks

    Mike
     
  17. bottlefed89

    bottlefed89 ArboristSite Operative

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2004
    Messages:
    423
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Kingsville, MO
    There are several threads that have come up in the past few months about winter income, search around. I think if you are getting into the bus. in order to find logs for chainsaw lumber making you'll be disappointed with most of the work you'd get. Doing mostly residential work, I don't think you'll be getting mainly timber quality trees to work on or remove, though I could be wrong.. If making timber is your goal, why not save a little more and get a real mill??
     
  18. BlueRidgeMark

    BlueRidgeMark Addicted to ArboristSite

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2005
    Messages:
    7,839
    Likes Received:
    691
    Location:
    Virginia

    If you want to do chainsaw lumbermaking, do chainsaw lumbermaking. Why spend the vast majority of your time doing something else? Let your wants/needs be known to the tree care companies, and see what happens. Take out an ad in the local paper.


    That will be a lot cheaper (in time and money) than getting into a business you don't really want to be in.
     
  19. treeseer

    treeseer Advocatus Pro Arbora

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2004
    Messages:
    6,756
    Likes Received:
    258
    Location:
    se usa
    Great ideas. I'd've saved years of fumbling and many abused trees if there were the educational resources and certification efforts around 30-40 years ago.

    Taht said, portable mills work well for their owners. If milling is your main goal, go to one of those instead of chainsaw milling, unless you have a market for sawdust.
     
  20. bottlefed89

    bottlefed89 ArboristSite Operative

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2004
    Messages:
    423
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Kingsville, MO
    Mr Glaze, if you are sitll interested in learning different aspects of the business, look in the for sale section -
    This Thread -
    http://arboristsite.com/showthread.php?t=28257
    should be particularly helpful, these videos are pretty informative, and especially with knots and such seeing someone else actually do something can be a great help. Now, these videos will not replace experience (which is the best teacher) but can give you a good idea of some of the things we do...
     

Share This Page