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Ok here we go... Starting tree business as a non-arborist

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So heres the deal.

Started a landscaping company in Arizona. We got a lot of tree work requests. My friend was out of work and was an arborist. I said let me take some tree jobs and put you to work and we can split the tree work down the middle. We both made$$$. Ended up being rather lucrative. We did this all with two f150's and 2 trailers. It made for a lot of labor. I did this for a couple years and then moved.

I started another landscape company again in Washington mostly maintenance based with a few installs which is semi lucrative in the Seattle area. No tree work. Way out of my league there with 100'+ tall trees everywhere. I moved again. All the moving was for my wifes schooling and now job.

I am now in California with a lot of cash burning a hole in my pocket. I do not want to start another landscaping business. I want to run a tree business, hire an arborist and groundie or two and get to work. I have the ability to buy a new truck with chipper body, new chipper, new grinder, new track loader and whatever other equipment I want or need. I wouldn't be doing any of the work myself just managing the business, marketing, bidding, etc...

I guess I am just curious on peoples thoughts of going full in without being an arborist myself. I know a lot of guys start as an arborist, do the work their self etc. That's not going to be the case here. Has anyone else done this? I'm going to do it no matter what. But would like to hear peoples thoughts and opinions. Even if they're the ones I don't want to hear.
The way I see it I would make money while giving an arborist that doesn't have the means to start their own business or is out of work or stuck working for some big company they don't like an opportunity to come in and have a lot of personal control over how they want to run things, opportunity to grow with a new business, maybe make a higher wage after things get rolling well etc.

As an arborist would this be appealing to you to work for a business like this? Even if it meant starting out without a lot of work coming in. I have no idea how fast leads will come in. There are 18 other tree businesses within the greater area. Some big like Davey etc some pretty small. If you started a business somewhat recently how was your growth? Did you blow up right away? Did it take years and years? Somewhere in the middle?
I will do whatever it takes to get jobs and keep guys working just want to make sure I don't **** myself here ya know.
 
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Does your 'whatever' include learning about arboriculture?
ha of course i know a bit already from taking classes and working with an arborist before. planning on taking some more classes as well but i don't ever plan on doing the work. i don't want to be another **** out there running a **** business. just more interested in running things and making the magic happen than climbing up a tree.
 
Jed1124

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If you are going to be bidding the work you should have at least a degree of knowledge that allows you to write pruning specs, asses tree risk, and of course make bids that will not cost you money.
I would at the very least become a certified arborist with the ISA. That will give you a foundation on which to build on.
There’s a million arborists who are poor business men, with a good business sense and gaining the knowledge necessary, I don’t see why you could not do it.
 
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old CB

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Your overall plan seems reasonable to me. The experience you've had seems to indicate you understand the overall nature of the business. Like Jed says above, even if you partner with an able arborist, he or someone will have to bid, sell, spec jobs. For some outfits that's a full-time position in itself.

If you get the right guy, like your former/original partner, you could make him/her very happy with the arrangement.

No matter how many other companies you compete with, if you provide good service and reasonable prices, you'll do fine. Trees are always growing, and the market with them. Go make it happen.
 
Bango Skank

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Not too crazy sounding, but you’re entirely at the mercy of your employees, and sometimes employees suck.

Sales is practically a full time job, depending on the area and how far from shop you’re willing to work. If you know the ins and outs of the actual work, it’ll help you give more accurate quotes.
 
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I have worked for non climbers before, and never would again. They just don't understand the business.
Sure. That's fine you can do or not do whatever you want. I kinda feel bad for you having had to work likely for some dickhead that didn't know left from right. We've all been there. In my younger days I was a mason. Worked for a guy that didn't know left from right with anything. Didn't know **** about masonry or running a business, managing employees etc. So I know what it's like. I fortunately do know what I am getting into more or less and have some experience in the trade, and am good at running a business managing people etc. I am also paying thousands of dollars to another arborist that is running a very successful business to consult with. That all being said I know I'll be fine. Just was curious what others opinions are. Picking up the Fuso with chipper body, chipper, and track loader next week. Gonna be great.
 
TheJollyLogger

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You seem like a good guy, and of course I am jaded from my experience... I still don't understand how a non-climber can bid a climbing job... they were always over or under because they didn't understand the dynamics of the job. To a non-climber some trees look hard when they are easy, and some trees look easy when they are hard... as you move forward, just remember at the end of the day it isn't your ass in the tree, and "whenever there is doubt, there is no doubt"...
 
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Where are you in California? The markets are vastly different depending on rural vs urban, Northern vs Southern Ca, ect.

Are you going to be able to get a D49 contractors license?
Ahh well I'll be in Sacramento area. I think theres a lot of work there. Hard to say exactly. I spoke with one person said he is getting hundreds of calls a month and can not keep up with even a tiny fraction. I'm sure it'll take a good while to work out all the kinks and get consistent business rolling in. Fortunately I am in a position where I can be patient.
As far as the contractors license I do not need the D49 as I am licensed in AZ under C-21 which is reciprocal with California's C-27 which allows you to do tree work. California only requires that I go take the business portion of the exam. No big deal. It's all being processed right now.
With C-27 We can not do forestry work which is fine by me. If I wanted to get the D-49 I could easily go take the test but see no reason to at the moment. Maybe in the future.
 
mckeetree

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I still don't understand, how do you bid a climbing job when you have never climbed?

Well, the fact of it is there is a ton of BS that goes on in this and every other internet tree forum. Regenerator might be some 19 year old kid sacking groceries just trying to stir things up.
You just never know. Most people with all the answers as he seems to have certainty doesn't want or need our opinions. I could be dead wrong, but based on being in this industry for
45 years, the last 35 running my own business, I would guess he is just full of sh!t. Like I said, I could be wrong...but most likely I'm not.

 
MattBanchero

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Ahh well I'll be in Sacramento area. I think theres a lot of work there. Hard to say exactly. I spoke with one person said he is getting hundreds of calls a month and can not keep up with even a tiny fraction. I'm sure it'll take a good while to work out all the kinks and get consistent business rolling in. Fortunately I am in a position where I can be patient.
As far as the contractors license I do not need the D49 as I am licensed in AZ under C-21 which is reciprocal with California's C-27 which allows you to do tree work. California only requires that I go take the business portion of the exam. No big deal. It's all being processed right now.
With C-27 We can not do forestry work which is fine by me. If I wanted to get the D-49 I could easily go take the test but see no reason to at the moment. Maybe in the future.
You might want to double check that. With a C27 you can't touch trees taller than 15' tall. That doesn't mean you can't climb higher than 15', it means any tree taller than 15' tall needs someone with a d49. I don't think anyone's checking that hard, but if your whole business is going to be based on tree pruning and removal best to have the appropriate license. Where you really get into trouble is if you start trying to bid on strip malls answering adds on Craigslist, that seems to be where the stings are happening from the contractors licensing board. Or if you really piss someone off who doesn't appreciate new competition.

Interestingly, you can't plant trees with a d49, you need a c27 for that?!?

You can do forestry work with a d49, you just can't do work that generates logs or chips for sale. Then you need to be class A timber operator.

I was going to say you should look at doing fuels reduction/fire mitigation work. You'll make a killing if you're efficient and get some of the big grant contracts that are going to start flying around in the next couple years.
 
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