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The Essence of Professionalism in the Tree Care Industry

The Essence of Professionalism in the Tree Care Industry

In the intricate world of Tree Care/Arboriculture, where the care and maintenance of trees require a delicate balance of expertise and environmental stewardship, professionalism stands as the arbiter of success. We, the arborists, stand as the Picassos of the urban forests, navigating through branches, leaves, and roots with a commitment to excellence that goes beyond the technical. In this blog, we’ll explore the pivotal role of professionalism in the Tree Care Industry, shedding light on the key principles that elevate tree care to new heights.

Expertise and Continuous Learning

At the heart of professionalism in Tree Care lies technical proficiency. We, the practicing arborists, should always stay hungry for knowledge and seek out opportunities for workshops, certifications, and training programs to stay abreast of the latest techniques, equipment, and industry standards; whenever possible! This expertise passed along not only ensures the health and vitality of trees but also positions us to become the guardians of our urban landscapes. Remember this, a well-rounded and knowledgeable team not only enhances the quality of service but also instills confidence in our clients. Not only does it make your team a cohesive unit, but as new and upcoming arborists join the team, they will get passed on trusted knowledge. Don’t let yourself hit that, “I know it” attitude. 

Navigating with Caution

I know, I know, I preach safety A LOT but for a good reason; not only due to personal experience but having also witnessed a few incidents. Our industry is inherently risky (every industry carries its own risk); ours is attributed to working at heights with chainsaws and dealing with powerful machinery on the ground. Professionalism demands an unwavering commitment to safety, adhering to the safety standards set in place. This includes rigorous training, the use of protective personal equipment (PPE) and using it correctly, and taking a proactive approach to identifying and mitigating potential hazards. Too often do I see unnecessary risks taken that have led to accidents, especially now that a majority upload to socials for that “Insta” moment, and because of that brazen confidence; accidents or real close-calls happen. We must lead by positive example!

Don’t fuel the Stereotype!

This one…infuriates me! I look back at the roots of Tree Care/Arboriculture and see the challenges the industry was presented with only to successfully accomplish each task -- and without the use of today’s mechanized equipment or systems. If you happen to look for the International Shade Tree Conference (before being renamed as the International Society of Arboriculture), you’ll find that everyone presented themselves in a very professional manner, or it could just be the Halo Effect doing its thing. Fast forwarding to today, the professional appearance of the arborist has shifted, but this is not what gets under my skin. 

The Stereotypes that seem to follow our industry: drunks, drug addicts, lazy, and the videos that circulate only fuels the stereotypes. In the early days of my career, I witnessed these things myself but kept it to myself out of fear that I would lose my job. As the years progressed, I ran my own crew and when a crew member (on the job) began to light a joint; I immediately sent him home and didn’t let him return onto my crew. We have been categorized (along with a few others) as having the most dangerous industry! WHY THE HELL would someone want to impair their judgment prior to working aloft, operate dangerous machinery, or let alone drive like that?! In today's age, there are cameras EVERYWHERE! You’re bound to get caught and that company will get a bad rep. I know certain things are legal and I’m not trying to tell you what you can’t do on your own time, but our job demands our undivided attention. My point is, is there no self-control!? Can’t it wait until said person is in the comfort of their own home?! 

I know I’m not the only one that holds themselves to high standards, many of us do! We’ve got to come together on this, confront and boot these stereotypes out of our industry, people need to know we are serious yet know how to have fun. If you see behavior like this begin to unfold, speak up – don’t bite your tongue, don’t be me. Your safety and that of the crew has now been gambled, as well as your job. And if you are getting yelled at because you have confronted the behavior, then do yourself a favor, move on to the next! An accident is right around the corner and odds are, the finger will get pointed. 

Show up early, dress according to the rigorous demands of the job – we’re not on the way to the beach, shorts and tanks should be highly avoided. Why necessarily expose your skin to urushiol? Do you like coming home all cut up, especially when working with hawthorns, honey locusts, or shagbark hickories? Appearance can make a strong first impression and may assist with retaining customers. 

I may have gone on a bit of a rant, but I feel strongly about this! I’m just super passionate about my job and want to continue to see this industry succeed, and have it become recognized for our professionalism! Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comment section.

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