What I Learned at the 2017 TCIA Expo
After spending three days of talking with the heads of our industry at one of the biggest tree shows of the year, it has really revived my passion for tree work! The TCIA Expo gets me pumped every year to come back to work and start putting new techniques and different procedures in place at my own company. It also helps me get a great understanding of where other company owners are at with their own companies, as well as getting to ask them questions about how to make my company better! There really is no better place to get so much information under one roof! If you missed the 2017 TCIA Expo, no worries, I've got you covered.
I can't help but share with you the biggest things that I learned at the 2017 TCIA Expo. Hopefully some of the small little tips or tricks that I learned will help you grow your business, make more money, or possibly keep your workers safer throughout their work day. Keep in mind that I am just sharing what I learned at the expo and am in no way saying that this is what you NEED to do or that is something you SHOULD do, I am just sharing what I thought was interesting ' and hope that you find it interesting too!
Go Big! (with Your Equipment)
The first thing that I found interesting at the 2017 TCIA Expo was the enormous amount of big equipment at the show. There were 5-6 dealers showing off Knuckleboom cranes with Tree-Meks or grapple saws attached to the manual extension of the boom. These amazing trucks are capable of reaching out 100', grabbing a large limb, cutting the limb, and then placing it by the chipper! Pretty wild! Seeing these amazing trucks lined up throughout the convention center was quite awe inspiring! So were the price tags!! Most trucks were in the $250-$300,000 range, which is quite reasonable when you start discussing the fact that you no longer need a climber in the tree. This helps increase the safety of your crew as well as the chance of fatigue injuries. This really could be the future of tree work happening right in front of us! I know of four of these trucks that are already in use in Michigan alone. I can only imagine how many are spread across the country at this point!
Compact Equipment Adds Versatility
The second thing that really stood out at the expo was the prevalence of Mini Skid Steers. These little machines are capable of carrying mega heavy loads across lawns, as well as through normal backyard gates. This makes the back breaking labor of tree removals into a fun ride on a cool little machine! The machine that stood out the most to me, however, was the Ditch Witch Sk1550 because of its enormous workload of 3000 pounds as well as it's awesome 'Mad Max' looking body armor! After talking to some of the reps, they told me that tree services are really starting to see how valuable these machines can be on a job site. They can easily do the work of three employees, plus they can't call in sick, nor do they complain! Ya can't beat that! The biggest thing I picked up from the trade show floor this year was the amount of machinery that is being released to help reduce the amount of manual labor. This is a great thing to hear for some of us young guys looking to work for the next 30 years!
There's a Time and Place for Friction
Another thing that was being presented at multiple booths throughout the show was the use of aerial friction to help reduce the amount of force on your rigging point in the tree. This is a great concept that can help make certain jobs safer, especially dead or compromised trees. A great device that can be used for aerial friction is the Rigging Wrench. It easily works as a small block without the rope fed through the Wrench, but once the Rope Wrench is clipped onto the rope you now have a Rigging Wrench! The Wrench creates a bend in the rope that in turn creates friction on the rope. The cool thing about the way the Wrench engages is that when the rope is pulled back up to the climber, there is very little friction, but as soon as the rope feeds the other way, friction! Keep an eye out for another blog post with a more in depth idea of how this setup works.
Coding Worker's Comp Claims
Worker's compensation was another topic that was covered in some of the classes. Though this may not be the most exciting thing to talk about, it's still something that we need to think about when it comes to running our businesses. The big thing to think about when it comes to worker's comp insurance is being sure to use the correct codes for what your crews are doing. If your crew is driving to the job or working on equipment around the shop, they surely aren't doing tree care. This is billed differently and, in turn, charged differently to you. One of the attendees mentioned that once they started looking into their worker's comp codes and how they charged, they ended up saving themselves over $100,000 a year!! That is some intense money to save! Maybe this is something that you need to talk to your insurance agent about with the end of the year right around the corner!
Honestly, I have never been disappointed with the TCIA Expo! I have always gained knowledge from the event. From talking to the guys at one of the booths on the trade show floor to getting some expert knowledge from a seminar, there is always valuable information to take away and apply to my business. Getting to talk to climbers on the floor opened so many doors on new gear and how it all goes together. I guess what I'm really trying to say is that you NEED to get to the next Expo!