Expert Tree Care

By Howard Eckel

One of the last great values in America

Trees and all things green add so much to our lives – beauty, serenity, and healthy air to breathe. Professional arborists stand ready to insure that these immeasurably valuable, resources remain healthy. These men and women represent one of the best values in America. Perhaps the last best value.

Why? Where else can you find and employ a professional who offers so much value at such a reasonable cost? If you consider the cost of hiring a professional arborist in comparison to the price of other professional services, you will come to appreciate the true bargain that tree care represents. A hair cut and styling, for example, can easily cost $35. Mechanical work on your vehicle or boat will run from $50 per hr. and up. Plumbers and electricians will charge as much or more for their services.

Next time you receive a quote from a professional arborist, consider the following: The insurance industry rates an arborist’s tree climbing activity as hazardous as a mine worker or a high steelworker building a skyscraper. As a result of this rating, the premium costs for workers’ compensation insurance can take five to eight percent of every sales dollar the arborist receives. In some states, the costs are considerably higher. This coverage is meant to protect the working arborist and the homeowner.

A professional arborist will be pleased to provide clients with a copy of the company’s Certificate of Insurance for public liability and property damage. This policy protects property owners in the event of mishap. Homeowners should never hire a tree care company that is unwilling to produce a Certificate of Liability! Cost of this policy, along with mandatory payroll taxes covering the employer’s Social Security contribution plus State and federal unemployment taxes, will account for another 10 to 15 percent of that sales dollar.

Countless property owners have discovered (to their great regret) that the “tree man” they hired to take down a tree overhanging their garage had no insurance. This discovery is usually made after the tree has crashed through the garage and the culprit has disappeared.

If you have been wise enough to employ a professional arborist, you have engaged the services of someone who has met standards of excellence and proficiency in skills such as First Aid; CPR; safe work methods and procedures; how to perform an aerial rescue; and working adjacent to the hazardous energized wires entering your home or building. They must also be aware of and adhere to all Federal OSHA safety requirements. They must pass applicable state criteria and be licensed to transport and apply any materials required in disease and insect control programs.

To be proficient in these areas, they have undertaken extensive training from other professionals, completed required correspondence courses, attended training seminars and passed exams that demonstrate their knowledge in all phases of arboriculture.

And yes, these well-qualified arborists are treated as professionals by their employer. Paid holidays, vacations, contributory pension and hospitalization plans are provided. These costs, along with an individual’s compensation, can total 35 percent to 50 percent of the sales dollar.

Modern equipment and tools used today by an arborist to obtain the greatest efficiency and safety represent a major financial investment by the company you have hired to perform tree work. Hand tools and power saws costing hundreds of dollars only have an effective working life of months before they must be replaced or overhauled. Brush chippers, used to create environmentally favorable wood chips, can cost as much as $25,000. Trucks for tools, towing, carrying people and debris or chips can run as much as $45.000. Aerial lift trucks can cost as much as $100,000. There are hidden costs involved with major equipment as well, since it must be housed and maintained properly in order to meet rigid safety standards. Fifteen to 20 percent of every sales dollar is spent on owning and maintaining equipment.

The professional arborist will have an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars at the ready to care and preserve your valuable trees and all things green. All told, these expenses equal far more than the cost of a pair of scissors or a set of wrenches. And a valuable landscape tree will remain beautiful far longer than your last haircut or new car!

The reality is that trees not properly maintained can be dangerous. A professional arborist has been trained to read the clues which indicate a tree is prone to failure. The professional arborist truly does represent the last great value in America.