[newb-work Q's/"halp!1!"] I've gotten 2 offers in past 18hrs to go to TX or LA with companies I still haven't worked-with....need advice!!


Jun 25, 2019
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Okay so I'm in a bit of a quandary here.... I'm in love with everything trees (5yr majorly-serious bonsai artist, wood-carver&worker, etc etc) and spent the past 6yrs here in FL doing "freelance handyman&landscaping" work, got good & built a big clientele for my needs (never had/have trouble filling my scheduler) but the $ was lacking & one day on a tree job they brought-in a real tree guy and....wow I knew immediately it was what I wanted to do as long as my body would allow it, anyway shortly after I got my belt/ropes/top-handle and began trying to find more tree-work amongst my existing clientele and also constantly trying to find local companies to climb for (ended up finding two, both were very disreputable and while I'll tolerate a lot I won't tolerate late payment or "oh the guy's check bounced" type of job setups) so, for the better part of 6mo now, I've been doing 1-->3 tree jobs a week (for existing/long-time clients) and handyman/landscaping the rest of my time.

I tried another round of contacting all the local companies, still have 2 that I'm "in talks with" but the most-promising still may not work $$-wise ($200/d for climbing days but I'd have to do an unspecified % of ground-days where it'd be $100-flat and i'd be on the ground bucking-up wood w/ my own saws...that'll drag-down those $200 climbing-days really quickly...)

SHORT-TERM -- Would love to hear people's opinions on "chasing the storm-damage", have been contacted by one company/person who's leaving Weds, and another who's leaving tomorrow....I've never worked with either of them (was in-talks about contract-climbing and, w/ the storm that just hit, they asked if I wanted to go) so am a bit worried at the chances of going & getting a dog-crap cut%$$$ of things and get back realizing/wishing I'd stayed & made more $$ doing my normal mostly-handyman work.. Would LOVE any&all thoughts/advice on this type of thing, I know one of the guys/companies is going to be bringing 1 bobcat & focused on just residential just find downed-trees and charge homeowners to chunk them up & transfer to the front-curbing, am still waiting to hear back from the second guy/company to find out what his approach is (he's the one leaving tomorrow)

But, more importantly.....this slide-back to more-often-then-not doing handyman work has me so bummed, am even doing some climbs on my old practice-tree (big Oak in backyard, has a permanent ascent-line on it ;D ) when I've gone nearly a week w/o getting to do any real climbs, so:

LONG-TERM-- I'm close to done trying to find others to work-under....I've got a very reliable friend who's early-retired but still has his chipper & big truck and he's happy to help me (would be paying him of course) if I "went solo".....THIS is my dream, and I am just stuck at this "analysis paralysis" because I feel (and fear..) I'm missing *something* because it just seems too-damned-easy, it seems all I need to do is call the insurer and setup a policy (and a single-person 'DBA' company, $1M umbrella is a surprisingly affordable policy), setup my DBA(or corp/llc/etc) and BOOM I can then post online / not 'hide' and just openly work trees? What am I missing? It can't be that easy/simple..... ('hide'- yup I do hide, as I'm not insured yet I do work that should have it, mind you the inherent risk is something I always go-over w/ clients when deciding whether to proceed on anything, but I can't go post it to facebook or advertise because I've got enough 'frenemies' that know I'm not insured and would love to post "Oh did you get your insurance?" if I ever used social media...)

Thanks a TON for any&all advice, FWIW I have been a groundsman (1 summer but I learned a ton and have been - however infrequently at times - doing more & more since, w/ an incredibly steep change in my learning&experience curve beginning about 2yrs ago) and know my limits, heck I turned-down a tree 2 days ago after already spending nearly an hour on-site because, sadly, it was just too-far-gone(decay/dead tree removal) for a climber to get where they'd need to anchor anything (ie needs a lift/bucket), I want to go solo WAY more than I'd wanna climb for someone else and am happy to setup the DBA & pay my insurance but just feel there must be something missing here I mean the way the people at the county-gov't explain it it sounds like ANYONE could do it I mean someone who bought their 1st chainsaw that afternoon could still submit all the DBA & insurance paperwork and be "legal"/legit....if it's that low of a bar-to-entry then I'm certainly going solo, am just as eager to learn about this as whether storm-chasing is a good/strategic move for a climber ;D


Tree Freak
Jun 17, 2013
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You must have really impressed some folks to get 2 outfits from 2 different states wanting to hire you at the same time?!
Are they near to where you live?

The Singing Arborist

ArboristSite Operative
Dec 22, 2017
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Good to hear you've caught the tree climbing bug. I've got some considerations for you:

Storm damage can produce some of the hairiest situations. The company you'd be doing this with...do they have great equipment to help take some of the danger out of that work like a crane or bucket truck? Also, what are your skills like as a climber like? I've seen a few guys get the climbing bug then bite off more than they can chew on a few trees. If these are some companies that know what they are doing, they can get you some pretty good experience. Storm damage cleanup is also pretty lucrative, but collecting payments from the insurance companies could be take some time. The employer may pass that onto employees.

It was surprisingly easy to start up my company. I did it 3 years ago and it was the best decision I've made in my professional life. I set up my business licence while donating plasma. Like you said, insurance isn't bad, and finding work can be pretty easy after you get going. It's not good to be alone in this industry though. If you do this, I'd recommend making friends with some other small tree companies. They can help give you different climbing techniques and perspectives and give a hand with some of those harder trees. Our industry isn't very cutthroat and competitive as other industries can be.

Best of luck out there.
Feb 7, 2013
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Eastern OK
Hope OP doesn't mind me asking a few questions here. After hiring a climber to take a tree down at my MIL's house a while back, I've also been bitten by the climbing bug. Bought some gear and been climbing lots of trees with just a basic Ddrt setup (hitch climber). I realize I've got a LONG ways to go before climbing as an occupation. Been looking into week long climbing schools and working as a groundman for a local arborist. There's a class in Ohio that looks very good. But my question is this: when acquiring an insurance policy, does the insurer require any certifications, proof of training, etc? Can any old Joe just call up and get a $1M umbrella policy? What type of $$ does a typical policy cost? Thank you for any help...

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