It is great to be here with you today. Each one of you has a story of how you came to be working in plant health care. My own is possibly similar to yours, or just maybe it is completely different. I am here today due to a serendipitous moment. It is my father’s fault. He was a newspaper writer/ columnist for the Commercial Appeal of Memphis. He wrote columns covering the Memphis Zoo, the “Memphis” sound that emanated from the Stacks-Volt Studios; covering artists such as Booker T. and the MG’s, Eddie Floyd, Odis Redding, Carla Thomas, The Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, William Bell, Isaac Hayes, Sam &Dave and many more. My father was also a human interest column writer. He was invited to speak at many civic clubs, and garden clubs. When he did so, he always mentioned what his sons were doing. At one of these opportunities, he mentioned that I was in forestry school at the University of Tennessee. At the conclusion of his talk, a gentleman, Mr. Nat Dunn came up to him and introduced himself to my father. He gave him some information on Mauget tree injectors, and how to appraise the value of a tree. In addition, he asked my father to let me know of his interest in visiting with me sometime when I was in Memphis. This was about 1974. Sometime in 1975, I finally met with Mr. Dunn. He gave me more information on tree injection and tree appraisal. I took this information with me when I went to a summer job with the U. S. Forest Service at the Gallatin Forest, out of Big Timber, Montana. Near the end of the summer, one of my tent camp mates said, “Cortese, you need to go back to Tennessee and do something with these tree injectors that you’ve been talking about all summer”. It was a crucible moment for me. I had not realized that I had been using my camp mates as a sounding board for this revolutionary new concept of injecting trees systemically. I graduated in December of 1976, and attended a seminar on Mauget tree Injection in Dallas, Texas on February 2, 1977. When I left Dallas that day, I was the new Mauget distributor for east Tennessee, Western North Carolina, and parts of Kentucky.
Thus, each of us has a story on how we have come to be here today.
I now want to ask you three questions. After each question, raise your hanf high and look around to see how many agree with you.
How many of you have climbed a tree?
How many of you have fallen out of a tree?
How many of you have been around a tree; saw something in, or on a tree; Or just wished there was someone around that new something about a tree that could explain what you were witnessing?
99.5% of Americans have climbed a tree during their life. 55-60% of Americans have fallen out of a tree. And 99.5% of Americans have wished that there was someone of expertise that could explain what they were seeing in regards to the tree. So what does this have to do with Plant health Care? Many of you have been to college; some in forestry, horticulture, botany, or other biology related field. Some of you have degrees in non-biology related fields but somehow by the grace of God ended up in arboriculture. Some of you have masters and Doctors degrees in the field. Yet some of you have only a high school degree. There is no shame in that. Many of the best companies I have had the opportunity to come in contact with over the years have had only a high school degree. I have determined that many of the latter have a higher degree of common sense than some of those with higher degrees. The point I wish to make is that of one of my Forestry professors back in 1973 in freshman intro to forestry class. He said, “that at your current level of education, you know more than 90% of the public about trees. There is another 7% that know somewhat close to what you know, and then there are 2% that will challenge you on what you know, and one percent that truly know more about trees than you do”. The lesson is to realize that you know more than you think. What may be missing is belief in yourself, and passion for plant preservation! I have been working arboriculture professionally since 1977. The only difference between any of you and my self is 38 years, or 20 years, or 15 years, or some of you may be more experienced in PHC than I am. It is a road. We are never totally there. We are on a life time journey of learning.
So, on to the topic: First and foremost, a plant health care program revolves around individual, specific trees, and plants. It is the true doctoring of plants. Some names of this practice would be: Tree/ Plant Preservation Program, or Integrated Plant Maintenance (IPM) Program, or Plant Health Care Program, or Plant and Soil Therapy program, or Holistic Tree Maintenance Program, or Vita Care Program, or Bio-Shield Program. Regardless of what you call it, the primary goal is to keep trees and plants alive, and healthy. You deal with insects, diseases, soil issues, weather issues of cold, heat, drought, and excessive rain, construction – development issues, and air pollution issues; anything that could contribute to plant decline.
A great starting point and resource for a plant health care program is to visit the local Agricultural Extension Service agent. They are located in just about every county in the United States. They are a wealth of knowledge to help jump start your operation and get you started on the right foot.
They can supply you with, or direct you to, all of the information that you need to get your state pesticide applicators, and Restricted Use applicators license; and business charter for your state; and supply you with any other regulatory information that you need to be legal.
They are very familiar with the plant insects, plant diseases, and soils for their particular area of the country and recommended treatments for such.
They usually have many publications; and they are constantly putting on training and educational sessions.
In each state, the Agricultural Extension Service has a state level entomology, plant pathology, tree identification, and soils laboratories. For a nominal fee, samples can be sent in for diagnosis and analysis. Lastly, when you have made friends with your Extension Agent, they can be a great source of client referrals. However, you should know that they usually give your name along with other competent companies. They also usually do not endorse specific companies, or products.
I am here today, not because of my intelligence, but because I have Have been blessed by God and good mentors along the way. As I have mentioned previously, I am a graduate of the University of Tennessee in Forestry, class of 1976. My former professors were my first professional mentors: Ed Buckner, Cary Schell, Dave Ostermeier, Ivan Thor, Hal Core, John Rennie, and others. Then In February 1977, I met Dale Dodds of the Mauget Company learning about how to give trees shots; not long afterward I met Walt Money, a Mauget distributor and president of Guardian Tree Experts out of Washington, DC area. Walt took me under his wing and I followed him around the South for my first eight years in business putting on eight Mauget seminars per year. He took me to his home and office in Northern Virginia discussing trees and business along the way. I learned what I call Moneyisms such as: “You can’t make money in the tree business until you get out of the trees”; and “Plant health care treatments are the profit in the tree care business.”
Then there was the day in 1978 when I found myself at the first Tree Injection Symposium held at the Univ. of Michigan. And I, a nobody, was sitting next to Dr. Rot, also known as Dr. Al Shigo. This was just before he changed our industry forever by instigating the revolution in Arboriculture with his CODIT theory, sealing his fate as father of modern Arboriculture. I and all of you are “Shigots”! A Shigot is a sapling of the Shigo. He has touched us all. There are two tidbits of conversation that I remember today as clearly as if it were yesterday from that day in Michigan so long ago. Dr. Shigo said, “If you want to know trees, you must touch trees”; and, Dr. Shigo would never endorse a method of tree injection, he said, “If you are going to inject a tree, make the wound as small and as shallow as possible; however, we will have arrived when we can introduce therapies via the lenticels of the bark”. In 1978, I was a sponge and absorbed all I could. I did not know what a lenticel was. I can tell you now that we, as an industry, are arriving because there are therapies to trees that can now be delivered via the lenticels of the bark. I can also tell you that I am saddened because many of the systems that we use today make very large wounds into the tree.
Then, there are colleague mentors such as Bob Ray, one of the best forward thinking Arborists in Kentucky in 1977; Gene Hyde – City arborist of Chattanooga , Tennessee; Dave Leonard of Dave Leonard Tree Specialists of Lexington, KY; Sam Adams, former manager of my firm Cortese Tree Specialists and now Urban Forester/ city Arborist for Knoxville, Tennessee; Dr. Douglas Airhart, Professor of Horticulture, Tennessee Tech University; Spence Rosenfeld, of Arborguard Tree Specialists of Atlanta, Ga; Larry Hanks of Pampered Properties, Georgetown, KY; Kevin Caldwell, Caldwell Tree Care, of Atlanta, Ga and past president of the TCIA; Randy Cyr, of Green Tree Doctor of Greenville, SC; Bruce Webster, Tennessee state Urban Forester for over 30 years; Dr Sharon Jean-Philippe, Professor of Urban Forestry at the University of Tennessee; and many others too numerous to mention.
From our mentors and colleagues we learn both the good and the bad. Hopefully, we learn more of the good things about Arboriculture. The good thing about mentors is that they help us to not re-create the wheel over and over. We have the ability to learn from our mentors successes and mistakes. I still consider myself a sponge. When we stop learning, we start dying!
Employee training in proper procedures is an absolute, extreme necessity!
Accidents only happen for only two reasons: employees do not know what they are doing (lack of proper training), or they are not paying attention!
Education is a never ending process and challenge. You must educate yourself before you can educate and train your employees. This does not mean that you have to know everything; you do need a conceptual understanding of each job in your company. You will find that many of your employees will become better at certain aspects of the business than you will ever be. This is alright. It is as it should be. I once met a fellow in Nashville that had attended one of my tree Care seminars back in the late 1980’s. He was distraught that he only had a high school education. I counselled him to hire employees smarter than he was. He still had control of the business, but he could use their smarts to help him build a first class business organization. They could then train other employees.
In the early 1980’s I hired a PhD plant pathologist to work for me. Ironically, I had had him teach me tree pathology at U. T. when he was working on his master’s degree. He married a woman from Maryville, TN, Just outside of Knoxville, TN and she wanted to stay in the area. There were not many opportunities for a PhD plant pathologist in the area in early 1980’s. He came to work for m, stayed three years and took a job as the first Urban Forester for the city of Savanah, Georgia. Did I learn anything while he was with me? Absolutely! It was a wonderful symbiotic relationship.
If you treat your employees as trained monkeys and not as craftsmen and crafts women then you are missing the boat. It is easier to correct an employee that has done something wrong, than it is to start all over from scratch. You have to instill pride in your employees. They have to understand why they have to do a particular treatment. By treating the employee as a person of respect, by teaching them, you have long term employees. They become committed to you. Yes, some will jump ship, but many will be appreciative and stay with you. It is hard to find, “good employees” today. Thus you have to train them, and educate them in what needs to be done. You supply them with books. You send them to conferences, and seminars. You hold in-house training sessions.
A couple of the primary goals of this training is to keep your employee from 1) accidentally injuring, or killing themselves or your client, or a passerby! And 2) accidentally killing, or disfiguring your client’s plants. Educated employees are usually happy employees!
There are in my estimation a number of PHC schools of thought.
Assume that you have arraigned an appointment to your client’s home, you have inspected and determined the tree/ plant’s problem – here are some sales options:
- Sell a takedown because you are old school, takedowns are all you know, and you really don’t even know what kind of tree it is.
- Sell a job to specifically treat trees and plants for insect, disease, mineral deficiencies, construction problems, etc. that are visible, that the client pointed out to you, when you are there and think no further.
- Sell a contract to solve the tree/ plant problem and then sell a separate contract for a specific price per visit to the property on a monthly basis for inspection of plants; with a clause that enables you to give an additional cost of specific treatment for a plant, if problem is encountered during season, or length of contract.
- Set up a “preventative” treatment program for the year with “x” amount of sprays, injections soil drenches, etc. planned in advance whether there is a problem or not.
- Numerous variations on three and four.
There is merit in the last two methods. When I started Cortese Tree Specialists in March of 1977, I did what I had to do to stay alive. I did tree and shrub pruning and I looked for opportunities to treat trees when the opportunity arose. I did not sell contracts for PHC Programs. I sold individual treatments. Later after traveling around the South with Walt Money, I started setting up annual aphid, tent caterpillar, and fertilizer treatments. At some point I started analyzing the client’s properties, doing an inventory of what trees and shrubs were there and then figured out what the major potential insect, leaf fungus, or other problems could potentially be a problem. I factored in the potential cost of treatments, if these issues became manifest. I divided the cost of all these potential treatments by the number of visits over the season and split that cost over the number of visits. I then proposed to the client a plant health care contract. If the problems I projected arose, I was covered, If they didn’t, I was more profitable. Then there is the in-house discussions and determination of what are the major plant health care problems in your specific area of the country. For example: Dutch elm disease. What is your policy and treatment for this problem when you or your other arborists come in contact with this at your client’s home? What about elm phloem necrosis? What about Sycamore anthracnose, dogwood borers, Emerald ash borers, inch worms, bagworms, tent caterpillars, construction site tree damage, lightning strikes? It is important to have a plan ahead of time before the problem is found in the client’s yard. Sometimes you will get to a client’s property, inspect their tree and tell them that there is nothing you can do right now because it is not the right time of the year for the application; that the treatment needs to be done in the spring just prior to leaf expansion; or during leaf expansion. This builds credibility for you, and your company.
One of my first annual treatment sales was precipitated by a phone call received on my answer machine in the early 1980’s. I came in from pruning a tree and listened to the calls. “This is C. K. Morris, emergency! I’m at blank, blank, blank, road. I am at 865- 363-8736. Emergency! EEEEEEMerrrrrrrrgency!!!! This is C. K. Morris! EEEEEMeeeeerrrrrrgancy! Well I got to C.K.’s place and his emergency was mature tent caterpillars that had defoliated the 10 large black cherry trees in his yard and were migrating towards his house, and eaves to pupate. There were thousands of two inch long caterpillars everywhere. I returned soon with a load of Sevin insecticide and sprayed everywhere I could. By golly I took a shower in the spray. However, we got C.K.’s problem solved, and every year for the next ten years I injected his trees when I saw the webs in the trees at a quarter to half dollar size. He was the most grateful client I ever knew.
Your PHC program is going to be an evolution for you. The tools and techniques, and products today are much superior to 1977. Modern treatments include soil sampling, air spade, and air –knife treatments, mycorrhiza, biologically activated carbon, or bio-char, organic materials such as humates and kelps. Today there is much greater emphasis on soil treatments to improve root development, as opposed to the old ways of just throwing nitrogen fertilizer over the tree root zone to make it grow. The effort to mimic the natural root zone of the forest is the ideal. The introduction of predator insects to feed on the bad ones, and the use of pheromones to attract the bad bugs is on the rise. There are new insecticides that are organic such as BioForest’ s TreeAzine that disrupts the insect’s fecundity.
Then there is TGR, Tree Growth Regulators. TGR’s such as fourth generation Short Stop inhibit shoot elongation and build up root development. Leaves are usually a third to a half of their normal size and the leaf cuticles much thicker with concentrated chlorophyll. It is my opinion that growth regulators are in their infancy in the PHC programs. They can be used for regulation of tree height under power lines, to treat trees that are going to be in construction sites, or to treat trees in construction sites after the damage is done. They can be used for treating shrubbery, and for tree and plant transplanting. They can be used for treating crown reduced trees in scenic views.
Today we have an understanding of degree days that help us pinpoint exactly when to treat trees for most effective insect control. Most of the professional companies selling PHC programs are much more sophisticated in their approaches today. The days of coming in and spraying all of the trees with DDT, or other equally bad insecticides on a monthly basis, is dead and gone. Thank goodness. It is my hope that the same will come to pass with the over use of nitrogen fertilizers.
Regardless of how you plan your PHC program, there is a lot more research to access today. There are constant new improvements in tools and techniques, understanding of treatment timings, understanding of the tree biology. It will continue.
PHC programs all start with a client having sick plants, and trees. The reason that we are here today is to improve our understanding of, and thinking about plant/ tree health care programs. This starts with being able to identify the species of tree that you are looking at. There are hundreds of potential tree insect, and disease problems out in the client’s yard. If you cannot identify the species of tree that you are looking at, then it is a pretty sure bet that you will not be able to always figure out what is the matter with the tree. Tree Insects and disease are normatively species specific.
Certain species of trees have certain types of problems. Example, the black cherry, if you see it or a weeping cherry, or kwanzon cherry, or any plant in the Rosacea family which includes apple trees, then you can project that there will potentially be tent caterpillars during late March/ early April of the season. You can sell that job now to be done at the proper time. What about if you see a hemlock? Well, you can inspect it for hemlock wooly adelgid, and scale. Then sell treating the job during the most advantageous time frame for achieving control.
There is a very distinct correlation between species of tree, soils they grow in, soil pH, fungi associated with, insects, and diseases that are specific to them. You must study intensely to get a handle on trees.
It is imperative that you google trees, and look at them, their shapes, their bark, their leaves. You have to know what a healthy tree looks like in order to know what a sick tree looks like.
The TCIA, and ISA have wonderful collections of books to use as resources. Some of my favorites are P.P. Pirone’ s, Diseases and Pests of Ornamental Plants; Then there is Sinclair, Johnson and Lyons, Diseases of Trees and Shrubs; and Johnson and Lyon’s Insects of Trees and Shrubs. There are many, many tree identification books available. Check with the state agricultural extension service, the state division of forestry, the TCIA , and ISA on line stores, and at you local libraries. Or be lazy, and again google trees, go to images and study them.
Fertilizing trees and plants is more complex than most want to recognize. In the 70’s there were basically three methods: 1) Go down to the hardware/ COOP store and buy a bag of 10-10-10 and then get a bucket. Reach into the bucket as you walk over the yard and broadcast the fertilizer over the tree/ plant root zone; 2) Go down to the hardware/ COOP store and buy a bag of 10-10-10 and get a bucket and a 3 to 4 foot one and a half inch diameter rod ( referred to by some as a dummy bar). Take your hammer and bang the bar into the ground 8 -12 inches. Then pour your fertilizer into the hole. Do this in an approximately 3 foot grid over the root zone. 3) If you are really progressive, you will have your handy Bean sprayer. You go down to the hardware/ COOP store and buy a bag of 10-10-10. Fill your 100 gallon tank with water. Pour in your fertilizer and then stir it up. Then go out to client’s yard and pump the fertilizer into the root zone area of the tree on a three foot grid.
Today you may do these things: you may broadcast, or hydraulically pump liquid fertilizers into plant root zones. You can punch holes into the ground on a grid pattern and put fertilizers and soil amendments in; or you can get an air knife, or air spade to make long trenches out into the root zone of a specific tree and mix in amendments such as mycorrhizae, kelps, and humates and other organic, and traditional fertilizers and call each of these methods vertical mulching, or soil therapy. You can even find liquid fertilizers that can be applied as a bark treatment, it moves through the lenticels of the bark. Then there is a new kid on the block: biologically activated Mirimichi Green or other brands of carbon for putting around trees instead of mulch, or compost; or incorporated into mulch and compost, and then sprayed with humates to activate the carbon. Dr. Shigo issued in a revolution in our industry. It is not only in physical tree biology; it is not only in the equipment that we use to prune, and climb the tree; it is not only in the evolution of chemicals that we use to treat trees, It is also in the study of tree roots, and the study of where are the roots, and what exactly will improve tree roots and their bio-sphere, and tree health. It is a known fact that one can grow a tree to death with fertilizers. It is a known fact that you can kill a tree with fertilizer if there is phytopthora in the tree root zone. There has been, and is currently continuing the evolution/ and revolution of tree fertilizers and their relationship to the tree. Some questions to ponder?
- Do you know what the soil pH is in the soil around your client’s tree? This helps predicate what type of fertilizer/ soil amendments that your tree needs. It is the starting point.
- Do you want to use powder fertilizer that mixes in water in a hundred, or two hundred gallon tank and pump; or do you want to use a liquid fertilizer mixed into a tank and pump? Utilizing powders always leaves residue in the tanks. In addition most powders wear down the bearings in the pumps shortening pump life.
- Do you want to purchase a pre-mixed dry or liquid fertilizer, or do you want to create your own? Do you want your fertilizer to be “organic” or something else? What about compost teas, mulches and earthworms; earthworm casts and other biologicals?
- Do you want to use your air knife/ air spade to create channels around the tree and replace with a special organic/ mycorrhiza fertilizer blend?
- Then there is the Mark Mann system of reducing fertilizer used by up to 75%. This involves pumping organic fertilizer such as Nature Pro’s Bio tree with humates, kelps, and other bio-organisms into the root plate area, or a targeted root zone area within three feet of the trees trunk, instead of over the entire traditional root zone area. There are massive quantities of roots, and root hairs in this area of the tree that can take up the fertilizer in a significantly reduced area. Thus less run off potential, less fertilizer used to get similar results as traditional fertilizing. Many more trees can be fertilized in the time a traditional tree would be. This saves time and money and is in my estimation, good conservation.
The bottom line is that there are many, many brands of fertilizers and methods of working with the root systems of trees that ultimately translate into improving a trees health.
There is much research needed and many miles to go before we have any sense of consensus of understanding the roots of trees, and the soils around trees and what are the best ways to achieve improving tree health.
A donation to Tree Fund to help pay for this needed research for our industry would be appreciated!
There are many ways to treat plants for insects and diseases: over-the-top and aerial sprays, broadcasts, trunk injectables, trunk bark sprays (material moves through the lenticels of tree), soil injections and drenches, use of traps and pheromones to monitor insects, biologicals, organics, and predator insects, etc.
It is my opinion that one should not be wed to one specific brand/line of products or systems. It is also my opinion that efficacy of products is generally very good for most all brands and that they do what their labels say that they do. However, all brands have certain specific products that are better than others. There are plusses, and minuses for all products to be considered for specific diseases, insects, and mineral problems. For example, Tree Tech has a product, Systrex that is the only combination fertilizer- fungicide available. They also have Snipper, a fruit drop product as an injectable. Mauget’s Fungisol is a warhorse product with over thirty diseases on its label. It has been doing its job since the early 1970’s. It is the only benamyl derivative not owned by the DuPont Corporation. Imidachloprid has been a go to treatment for many insects for many years now. However, there are now potential bee problems showing up. Its future is looking troubling, and uncertain. Bark spray treatments of Valent’s safari are a wonderful option for insect control in many cases. As are bark treatments of permithrin, and onyx. For control of the EAB, there are numerous ways of control: Arbor-Jet’s TreeAge, a restricted Use product. This gives you a two year control; or BioForest’s Ecoject system with TreeAzin, an organic product that also has a two years residual. It is possible to treat seven ash trees with this method in the time it takes you to treat one tree with ArborJet. Then for those who wish to visit the clients property each year you can use Mauget’s Imicide; or Tree Techs Merit; or Valent’s Safari as a bark spray, or soil drench; and then there is the cheapest method of treatment – generic imidachloprid as a soil drench. You can get Rainbow Tree Scientifics brand which has a 2 X rate. This is really great, inexpensive way to treat ash trees larger than 22 inch dbh.
There is so much change happening so fast in the industry that you have more options and possibilities, more safely than at any time in history.
Thus, reading, studying, analyzing, keeping up with what is available in the market is absolutely important.
Record Keeping – Absolutely important! You cannot survive in Arboriculture and PHC programs without keeping good records.
- Who is the client and what is their address?
- Who does the treatment?
- What plant(s) did they treat?
- What products did they use?
- What is the specific target insect, disease, or soil issue?
- What is the rate of the product used? How many injection units, gallons, pounds of product were used?
- When is the proper time to treat, or re-treat?
- How long did it take to administer the treatment?
- How long was the driving time from the shop to client A; then from Client A to client B. etc.?
- What were the gross sales of insect and disease treatments, number of fertilizer/ soil therapy treatments, etc? Last year, and the year before; both by the year, and by the month.
Record keeping is also necessary to help you know which products to order the coming year. If you know that you ordered ten cases of Mauget products last year, and four gallons of Short Stop Tree Growth Regulator, used ten cases of Safari, eleven 88 count jugs of imidachloprid 1.6 ounce packets, and used one hundred gallons of Natures Pro Bio-Tree liquid fertilizer concentrate last year; you can project that you will probably come close to using the same amount this coming year. It also allows you to have some negotiating power to purchase your products at the best price.
Record keeping is important so that you know how much of each treatment you did last year. Then you have a base to determine if you are doing more, the same or less work from one year to the next. You have means of measuring your internal sales and production performance.
Lastly, Record keeping gives you answers in case of spillage, accident, or client says that your treatment killed Mr. Beaux, the dog; or, if an employee claims to be poisoned. This is vitally important in our litigious society.
Another Moneyism for you: It is a lot easier to project a positive image even when small, than to change a poor image once you start to grow. Some of you remember the old cowboy shows of the 50’s and 60’s. You remember those towns that the cow pokes would ride into. Well they were sets for the show. There were two by fours holding up the façade of most of those towns. You go through the door and there would be nothing there. As the cow poke went through the door, a scene change took place and you were in different setting that looked like you were inside of a building. When you are a small company, you must build a façade, and image; even if it is not filled in behind. As time goes on and you grow your company, the rest of the town and buildings are built out and filled in.
If you are not currently offering a plant health care program, then do not expect your clients to rush to contact you about it. You have to be a walking, talking public relations executive! If you don’t toot your horn, no one else is going to! Marketing is simply letting the client, and public know that you can offer more than just tree pruning, and takedowns. However, you must change your paradigm. You have to do more than just give Mrs. Schmidlap a quote on the tree pruning; you have to look for other trees and tree problems in her yard and bring them to her attention. Let her know that you can help her with those problems also.
If you currently have a sales team and a PHC program, It is imperative that you analyze each sales representatives previous year’s sales. Find out what specifically they are selling. You will find that they are stuck in a rut of selling the same things over and over. They are leaving “money on the table”. You don’t want to brow beat them for this. You simply need to have a pleasant in-house discussion and sharing of these things. Once the errant sales rep has it brought to their attention, then they should start to expand their sales into the missing areas. Analysis of records and data is the only way that upper management can get a handle on what is happening in the field.
So – Marketing? I hung my hat on the J.J. Mauget Company’s logo “We Save Trees” in 1977. I also used the logo “Excellence in Arboriculture”.
I also hung my hat on “Tree Topping Hurts”. This is what I wanted the public to know in as few words and possible.
I branded this in every way and every place I could think of. I created and had manufactured signs with the anti-tree topping logo. I sold them to the city of Knoxville, and other cities. They are placed near schools and parks and other public places so that they are seen by children, and adults on a daily basis. It is now emblazoned in the mind of the citizenry. They do not know why it hurts, but they know that they do not want their trees topped.
This message was broadcast on the local public radio station for years. Clients could recite it to me.
Years ago, Knoxville started a spring home and Garden fair. I was one of the first companies to sign up. The first year I just had a table with a table cloth hanging over it. On the table I placed pine cones, oak galls, cross section of small tree with a fungi growing out of it. Moth pupa cases that I had found hanging in trees and some literature from the Tennessee division of forestry and the local Agr extension service. I created lightning demonstration model for this show. I brought in a large topped tree and hung hats on all of the branch stubs. I brought in large cross sections of trees, polished down and laminated; then pins and identification of dates significant to the local history.
I discovered that I was tired of competing with those who let there fingers do the walking through the yellow pages. It dawned on me that my major clientele were folks who support the arts: Symphony, Opera, art museum, Dance, plays, Library Society, Botanic garden, listen to classical music on public radio. My advertisements were never in your face hard and crass. They were pleasant tying tree preservation with Cortese Tree Specialists. The folks who support the “arts” groups usually have expendable money available to keep their trees looking good. They genuinely appreciated that I would put some of my funds back into helping their favorite arts group or charity.
There are a lot of groups, schools, civic clubs, and garden clubs that need speakers. Go speak, pass out cards, or brochure. The phone rings, you increase sales. I made lists of the civic clubs, and had my secretary draw up a short letter introducing Jim cortese as a potential speaker to their organization on tree related issues.
Then there is the Heart Society, and Cancer society, and the Friends of the opera or symphony; all of these and many more have balls and events to raise money. Most will have a silent auction area where many things are set out and the members of these groups go by and bid on the items. I had Tree work to bid on every opportunity I could. This was especially good for two reasons: Even if the folks did not bid on my item, they looked at the Cortese name and later, when they suddenly had bugs chewing on their tree, they remembered us and called. Then there were those who actually bid on the tree service offered. By the end of the evening, I had a job sold. All I had to do was work out the details. Branding is what you call it.
So, regardless of where you are on your Arboricultural journey, If you work hard, and study hard, talk with your colleagues, and have confidence in yourself and what you are doing; success will come your way! It is about education! Educating yourself, educating your employees, educating your clients, and educating the citizens of your community. The more you educate, the higher the bar is raised in your community. The greater the separation between your company and your competitors! Why is this so? Because your competitors are stuck in “Old Arboriculture”. You are helping the citizens of your community to know what Modern arboriculture is all about and why they should have you taking care of their trees and plants!
Good luck and if I can ever be of help to any one, just call, or e-mail me. I want you and your company, and your clients to be successful in PHC.