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Becoming an Arborist, Albany, NY

Discussion in 'Arborist 101' started by HusqyStihl, May 1, 2015.

  1. HusqyStihl

    HusqyStihl ArboristSite Guru

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    What are the first steps to take to get in the field (or tree)? Located South of Albany, been fellin, buckin, splittin & stackin. Where do i start? Anyone know in my area??

    Any help greatly appreciated!!

    Thanks, Moose
     
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  2. Pelorus

    Pelorus Uva uvam vivendo varia fit

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    Learn knots.
    Buy Jeff Jepson's "The Tree Climber's Companion"
    Attend TCI Expo in Pittsburgh next November.
     
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  3. treetopguy2028

    treetopguy2028 ArboristSite Operative

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    Pelorus is on target. Learn safety to the hilt. Study this website and the website www.vertikal.net and register so you learn about access and cranes equipment. Find a mentor maybe through a small engine repair shop or the state forestry commission. If you can work part time in a small engine shop you'll learn a lot of mistakes amateurs make and you'll then be able to maintain your equipment to save money on repairs avoid breakdowns and work stoppages. on www.TCIA.org you can find member arborists by zip code. Apply to apprentice with them and learn all you can and pass it on. Soon you will mentor younger people. Keep in mind our industry nationwide has a frequency rate of 15 to 20 injured or killed per month and so there is no room for risk or taking chances.
    I joined TCIA in 2008 when I could afford liability insurance and TCIA dues. I attended two EXPO's and wish I could afford to go to Pittsburgh this year. I am 74 and working closely with my ground man at succession planning for the business to continue should I not be able to keep going.

    Our work day begins with a prayer, safety meeting, job briefing, do an EHAP and finally work. We do not smoke so that habit does not inflict my business. My opinion is tough; came from my father who smoked two packs a day and could only work with one hand but he didn't work outdoors.
    We work efficiently drink lots of water clean up thoroughly and watch each other's backs all day long. If we make a mistake we stop work and discuss what happened and why. We have never had an insurance claim nor serious injury.
    I had a mentor in Florida for four years (1991-1995) and then did two more years apprenticeship starting my business with $800 in 1998. I have reinvested into equipment, paid my contract laborers equitably and have served 681 customers removing more than 4,400 trees since 1998. I haven't counted the pruning jobs, stumps ground or hours of leaf cleanup. Our region is sparsely populated so its difficult to justify doing this full time. We have other irons in the fire that provide income when tree work slows down or drops off.
     
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  4. HusqyStihl

    HusqyStihl ArboristSite Guru

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    Tree Huggers Companion already ordered. Thinkin about purchasing top quality full combo SRT and DDRT setups. Nothing in my area for any type of training except the arborist im constantly fixing his saws. I could prob work out some training with him for less than labor costs on saws.

    Funny you should say November, ive lost my license for 1 year last October due to e medication giving me a seizure. I get it back in October so i may be able to make it down there somehow. Def not with my F250 5.4,, it would take me 5k$ in gas one way lol but it's def something i will look into.

    I've asked this arborist to start as a groundie for his company but all he wants from me is repairing saws that apparently his groundies break DAILY so it keeps money coming in so i can't complain. Other thing is ive been getting job offers left and right from Laboreres Unions, Saw Shops, Heavy Equipment Operators so i don't know what the hell im gonna do now... Lots to think about...

    Appreciate the info very much!!

    ~Moose
     
  5. HusqyStihl

    HusqyStihl ArboristSite Guru

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    Ive been studying everything i can, I've got a bunch of PDF's of every type of climbing, I was volunteering for the local saw shop for months and they had me polishing lawnmowers, touched one chainsaw the entire time i was there. They beg me to come back every day im in there pickin up parts but who wouldnt want a employee that gets paid nothing to pressure wash new zero-turns??

    I've been making a killing rebuilding and fixin up saws on my own. Love doing it also but when i went to volunteer, thats what i volunteered for but did everything but... Like i said, choices choices.... and at the present time, no license doesn't help either.


    EDIT: Thank you so much for all the advice, will be taken into consideration and i'll study anything i can get my hands on. I'm even gonna ask this arborist to ask to just watch and learn for a couple days without pay. Just help out a little and watch technique and all...

    Thanks- ~Moose
     
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  6. treetopguy2028

    treetopguy2028 ArboristSite Operative

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  7. treetopguy2028

    treetopguy2028 ArboristSite Operative

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    I am honored to help and I wish there were more young people like you wanting to work in our Industry. Don't sell yourself short for some people given the chance will take advantage of you. You will benefit in the long run by having several irons in the fire but be careful not to offend one source in favor of another. I have trained about 22 groundies since 1999. The common thread is safety and work efficiency. If I employ someone who doesn't understand how to think through a work process, understand the desired end result then work smart, work hard and get it done then I loose money. I am in this business to stay and by making a decent income I can fulfill the expenses debt and material costs. While I respect my fellow worker I maintain my position as an owner/operator and demand results. All this comes by being dependable, honest, sincere, communicating, and respecting the customer. I collect once a job is done...don't take money in advance because one bad situation can ruin your reputation. That all for now...must go exercise then go to Church.
     
  8. treetopguy2028

    treetopguy2028 ArboristSite Operative

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    Moose,
    I looked up your community on my atlas. Your area looks like a bedroom community of the Albany metroplex. Without a driver's license you probably must find local jobs. If there is an equipment rental business near you try to get work in their shop so you can learn how equipment gets misused. Go to work early don't miss work unless you are too sick to work and don't be a clock watcher.
    If you have a library or can tie in to the New York State Library system to borrow books about tree care. In16 years my library has grown to about 30-35 books on trees rubs and tree care. Don't overlook stump grinding as a trade or sideline because there will always be stumps to grind. I have two 13HP walk behind machines and I use Green #500 carbide teeth.
     
  9. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I am going to be contrary to the other responses so far: The comments so far have been learning how to climb. Do you want people to hire you to just climb their trees or to take care of their trees?

    The first thing you need to learn is trees. Learn to ID trees. Learn tree biology. Learn proper pruning cuts. Learn tree pests. You don't have to memorize them all right off the bat, but become familiar with all of the ANSI A-300 standards: http://tcia.org/business/ansi-a300-standards

    You can do a LOT of good tree care from the ground. If you are trying to learn both climbing and pruning at the same time, you are probably going to sacrifice one or the other which either threatens your life or results in low quality work. "Low and slow" is how you learn to climb...I'd argue it should also be how you learn to prune/care for trees.

    Not that the rest of the advice you have been given above isn't good advice...because it certainly is! I'm just saying you asked to be an arborist. Tree climbing is only one part of arboriculture and you can be an arborist without climbing a tree as much as you can be an arborist without ever doing root care or trunk injections for dutch elm disease, or planting trees, or utility clearance, etc, etc...
     
  10. treetopguy2028

    treetopguy2028 ArboristSite Operative

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  11. treetopguy2028

    treetopguy2028 ArboristSite Operative

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    ATH OFFERED YOU SOME EXCELLENT ADVICE.
    Oops, gotta turn off caps. As time goes by and you become known for your knowledge skill and expertise, get ready for the common question I get here where I started and made my home since 1998:"are you still cutting trees." Be sure to read Alex Shigo's books...they're all good.
    My ground man has six kids and they home school, farm 19 acres, operate a portable saw mill on the farm and play and sing folk music on stage. He is building a new house and pole barn. We are apprenticing the oldest son, 16, teaching him how to work as the grunt guy. Every lesson I put him through is recorded on my iPad Notes and from that we can see what we might teach him next time we work. Until he turns 18 we won't let him run any dangerous machine. With harness and lanyard on, he has been up in the lift basket with me to see what the work is like 46' up in my Niftylift. I climbed for seven years then fell 20' in 1999 and broke my right hip fracturing the pelvis. I had health insurance in force which paid 80% of the $46,000. In 2000 I worked every part time job I could find and paid back the $9,000 co-pay in 11 months. In 2001 one of my former customers bought a used Work Force telescoping lift to work on his barn and trees and we partnered for six years. Then he could not be here often enough to keep up with the work so I bought a used lift on eBay in 2008, hired a ground man and built the business steadily.
     
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  12. HusqyStihl

    HusqyStihl ArboristSite Guru

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    I'll take any advice, close by me numerous friends are always askin me to drop remote trees, buck them up, that sort of thing. Ive been asked numerous times if i climb to take out alot of trees in a private community where there are VERY expensive summer homes and they were all built deep in woods and alot of trees need to be removed carefully. Ive been reading up on climbing recreationally and i know my way around a saw, but without the correct insurances and workers comp and everything else needed, i wouldn't even attempt such a thing let alone not having the experience with climbing, rigging, and everything in between. Thats why i asked to start as a groundy and go from there. The arborist (which doesn't seem to legit as i've seen his beat up equipment and frayed ropes piled up in the back of his truck) has asked me if i want to start climbing for him. To be honest, a voice tells me no way in hell. But the thought of doing things right and the safe way may be a new calling for me. I have no problem at all helping alot of people in my area by fixing their saws at almost half the rate of the local saw shops, which is one reason the saw shop wants me back. They have noticed my ability to repair and maintain saws and they know they are losing business to me so theyre dying to get me back but unfortunately i was only volunteering at their shop so why wouldnt they want me back ya know.. On my own i'm at least putting some money in my pockets. I will speak to them this coming week sometime about putting me on the payroll but not the books :innocent: and see what they say since they want me so badly and also repair saws on the side along with limited wood cutting services just to keep busy... Gotta say though, tree ID is pretty tough for me to grasp but working on it. So i guess you could say i have an idea of options of what i could do, just need to figure out where to start.

    Nice that you can pass the trade along, without this website i'd still be trying to figure out why the backwards chain on my fathers wildthing isn't cutting through 30" oak too well. And only being a short time member, i have learned ALOT of useful info. I don't have alot of money or assets besides a decent service bodied truck that i rebuilt from the ground up to put back on the road once cleared again to re-instate my license in october, but thats way past prime time for tree business i'd believe. Trying to find something i can learn from or apprentice and work hard during the summer just to keep in shape (mind and body) and decide from there which way i'd wanna go. Guess i just need to find the right teacher but no license makes everything so much harder. Ive had to decline 3 awesome job opportunities in the past weeks that could have become sound careers because my DL and CDL have been taken temporarily. Im SOL in alot of ways and the down time is killing me so i wanna figure something out to keep the knowledge coming in. This website really helps and everyday it surprises me on how helpful everyone on here really has been and continues to be.


    I appreciate every last piece of feedback in this entire thread. I'm willing to look at every angle, read everything i can, and attempt to learn everything i can also before lifting one foot off the ground to start climbing...

    Very much appreciated!! As always!!

    ~Moose
     
  13. HusqyStihl

    HusqyStihl ArboristSite Guru

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    Also, i guess i should have further explained, my reasoning for learning to climb would be specifically for tree removal only. Not maintenance or pruning. Maybe down the road i'd consider that type of work but the demand for removal is extreme around here and very short of good climbers
     
  14. treetopguy2028

    treetopguy2028 ArboristSite Operative

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    I'm back again Moose and I doubt I will let up. I trust other folks in our trade will give of themselves too.

    When at all possible do not work alone Moose. Another pair of hands, set of eyes and ears and to call for help when troubles occur may save your life. The shortage of capable climber arborists seems to be nationwide. Gravity always rules and safety never runs out of our thinking range. Anyone who behaves like a smart aleck or know-it-all should be sent down the road packing. Electrocution kills half of those killed in our trade. Failing to plan work is largely a cause for other fatalities and injuries. I don't mean to be negative or morbid it's just a dangerous field of work.OSHA ranks it as the most dangerous.

    The evolution of aerial lifts (access equipment) is making WAH (work at height) much safer and efficient but the basic cost can be higher than saddles and ropes. My equipment investment has reached $80,000 since 1998. About 80 to 90% of it has been bought used including my 2003 Niftylift TM40 bought in 2008. I've become a very skilled mechanic and electrical repairman for there are few repairmen in this rural area who know how such a machine operates. All I learned in schools through college has been so helpful for this business especially reading and writing. My degree is a bachelor of Science in business administration majoring in hotel and restaurant managementand minor in accounting. The first career of 36 years ended in 1989. This work now is like a second time around in life. I will always be indebted to F. Herbert Robertson my friend and brother in prayer who was a Certified Florida Forester who took the chance to show me his work. It didn't take long to get hooked on trees in 1991. I followed in his steps for four years and fashioned my apprenticeship that lasted six years before I earned any money for my work. I still learn and stay open to new thinking.

    Since then I have felled 4,412 trees and only five went the wrong direction. Two trees damaged property which set me back $4,800 and taught me what an insurance subrogation is. Since I could afford liability insurance of $1,380 per year I have never had a claim.

    Another book you should read is Tree Law Cases by Lew Bloch. Mine cost me $53 about seven years ago and has saved me about $50,000 in risk management.

    For tree identification this website and www.linkedin.com can be helpful. George Symonds authored two good books printed in black on white for shrub and tree identification. The Audubon society publishes an excellent Field Guide to Tree Identification. I would like to think the New York Forestry Commission has published a book on NY trees. George Petrides has written several excellent Peterson Guides to Trees. Study all you can about permitting, waivers, insurance cleanup work, and how to build repeat customers. I keep a stack of books beside my recliner and am reading Delivering Knock your socks Off service by Kristen Andersen and Ron Zemke.

    This is plenty for now.
     
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  15. HusqyStihl

    HusqyStihl ArboristSite Guru

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    Hey by all means keep the info coming, any help is appreciated! Ive lost count of all the different books and references so i think im gonna go through the thread and write them all down. Found the Tree Climbers Companion in PDF form on google no problem and currently reading it as we speak.

    It gets a little overwhelming it seems with all the knowledge needed to safetly perform this type of work but i'll chip away at it slowly but surely.

    Alot, who have asked if i climb, just assume its a matter of climbing my azz up there and chopping up a tree. Even had a buddy who told me last night that he'd partner with me since hes been climbing trees since he was a kid (not pro climbing) zero PPE but i don't think he's sober these days and that doesn't work in my book.

    Ive heard (on other threads) that there may be equipment dealers that will let you test out gear including saddles. Let you dangle from them to test comfort, fitment.. etc. Im looking into this and have read and priced all kinds of equipment. Any recommendations on saddles, gear, extras?

    Btw, im 6'4" and about 225lbs if that decides anything. Boot size 15W. Think im too big to be looking into a decision like this?

    And i was told today by my grandfather that a "logger" in no way qualifies for life insurance. Is this really true??

    Again, appreciate everything!!

    ~Moose
     
  16. HusqyStihl

    HusqyStihl ArboristSite Guru

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  17. treetopguy2028

    treetopguy2028 ArboristSite Operative

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  18. treetopguy2028

    treetopguy2028 ArboristSite Operative

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    This is gonna' sound mighty ignorant of me but it's true. In my seven years of climbing I only had a safety belt to tie in with. Herb told me not to wear boot gaffs if the tree deserves to be saved. I never had a climbing saddle so all I can recommend is to try on different kinds to see what works and read the product reviews. If you will exercise daily 20-30 minutes you can reduce your weight and you will sleep better...but for 6'4" I guess the weight is okay. I am 6'0", 168 lbs. and 74 years old. The muscles used up in the air include brains, arms hands and shoulders.

    Our daily routine for work goes like this: prayers, tailgate safety, job briefing, EHAP, and finally work. The warm up takes about 15-20 minutes and we are safe fast workers. It is a real joy to have such outstanding team work. I have two other fill in ground guys when needed but they aren't always available. Sometimes getting a crew together is the hardest part of doing a job. Sometimes getting lift and outriggers set is anoth.

    BTW, if you rent a lift make sure it has outriggers. Without them the risk increases by three or more times. I don't know anything about loggers (silviculture) and life insurance.we have a lot of loggers in the Ozarks.
     
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  19. tree lopper

    tree lopper A Brisbane tree lopper.

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    Buy one, sir. I understand 'old school', but modern equipment makes climbing trees much easier. Also, it's well worth buying a mechanical prussik of some sort. Really, why do it hard at your age?

    Moose, you've already been given heaps to do. I'd just say that if you've make good progress into doing those things: you've read, learned your knots and bought some equipment, that your local arborist might be keener to take you on rather than have competition. It might be worth letting him know you're going to either work for his customers or for him.
     
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  20. HusqyStihl

    HusqyStihl ArboristSite Guru

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    I've still got alot of homework set out for me but im trying to keep up. All great advice and its appreciated greatly.

    One thing that stood out to me in the Tree Climbers Companion, was Brion Toss suggesting a 6 foot piece of rope to practice tying knots on the go... what would be the best kind/type of rope to buy a length of for this? I used to know many knots but i definitely wanna learn more and remember what i used to know. Can't practice enough!

    And good suggestion about working for him or the customer, i like that :clap:
     

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