When you’re a firefighter, having the right machinery and equipment is often a matter of life and death. You need it to work every time, without fail, taking care of everything that keeps you safe.
Michael and Dave Joseph know this well, and the veteran firefighters put the same emphasis on equipment performance in their work while operating Joseph Tree Service in Dublin, Ohio. Today, their Vermeer equipment, local dealer, service and the Vermeer Confidence Plus® asset protection program are key to the brothers’ success in the tree care industry, and it stretches well beyond just the machinery itself.
A natural fit
The ISA-certified arborists and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, natives worked their way into tree care when they started a landscaping business as high school students. Once entering college, they sold the business but continued to build their skills in tree care, a natural fit for the rock-climbing enthusiasts. When they both found opportunities to become firefighters, they entered a profession that engaged them in a similar way they’d already found rock climbing and tree care to do.
“When we were kids, we did some rock climbing, so we later enjoyed the thrill of climbing and felling trees. At first, we had no idea what we were doing, but we thought it was fun,” Dave said. “In college, my brother ended up volunteering at a local fire department and fell in love with it. I ended up taking the certification test with him, and we both started as firefighters in 2003.”
Upon making the move to the Columbus, Ohio, area, the brothers eventually found working as firefighters and tree care professionals fit well together from a time and labor standpoint.
“We work 24-hour shifts followed by 48 hours off for the fire department. We thought that schedule would allow us to work on our tree care business, plus we thought it was fun,” Dave said. “From 2003 to 2011, the business was just Michael, me and a couple firemen that would come and help us.”
Evolving their business
Since 2012, they’ve gone from three to 15 employees, adding team members who they knew would be major assets in growing their business. Expanding their workforce spurred a broader evolution of their business when the Joseph brothers realized they needed to “become more professional.” That realization led them to earn International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) arborist certification and Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) accreditation for their business. Today, education is a major priority for the brothers, both college graduates, and their employees.
“We found that we were relatively unprofessional and needed to do a lot more. That created a lot of change for our business. We became more professional and began a really good run of hiring good employees. We have 11 arborists on staff now and have at least one arborist on every jobsite,” Dave said. “Education is really important to us, and besides us, we have three others on our team who have college degrees. If you have knowledge and you’re humble and willing to accept criticism to grow, you attract the same kind of people to work with you.”
Equipment and support
Building that team was only part of the equation for Michael and Dave Joseph. In building their tree care business, they knew the right equipment would be critical to their success. As they grew in central Ohio and sought to build their equipment lineup, they demoed chippers and stump cutters from several manufacturers, including Vermeer. They chose Vermeer not just because of the quality and durability of their BC1500 and BC1800 brush chippers and SC552 and SC362 stump cutters, but the Vermeer Confidence Plus program that helps them ensure the machines are well-maintained.
“The Vermeer Confidence Plus program is brilliant. The problem of equipment maintenance and related decrease in productivity has been removed from our operation,” Michael said. “For the cost, it is very fair and reasonable. Especially when you calculate just your own labor to do the same work; it’s a no-brainer.”
That high level of maintenance does more than just make things easier for Michael and Dave Joseph. It has enabled them to focus more directly on expanding and diversifying their business, for which Michael said the brothers have “a very aggressive business plan to expand around the state of Ohio.”
“Had we not had Vermeer equipment and the Vermeer Confidence Plus program, we would have persevered to this point, without question. But, we would have been challenged a lot and would have had a lot more on our plate,” Dave says. “Now, we are more efficient. We can take equipment maintenance off our plate and put something else on our plate. We don’t have to use manpower and develop processes for it ourselves. It allows us to work on our business, not in our business.
The right combination of manpower and machinery
So, what exactly have the Joseph brothers done with the time and energy that went to equipment maintenance before the Vermeer Confidence Plus program? They’ve grown their emphasis on education, not only for themselves, but for their employees. And, they’ve taken steps to instill key values on their team that they see as hugely important to future business growth and development.
“People always ask us how we manage our crews when we are only here one or two days a week because of our schedules at the fire station. We just have great people and they are great representatives of us. If you treat people fairly, they will treat you fairly. We always work and live by the Golden Rule,” Michael said. “People want responsibility, and they want to know we’re depending on them. When they know we trust them, they step up to the plate and take care of everything.”
Having dependable people extends beyond just the employees of Joseph Tree Service. While trust among team members is hugely important, it’s just as critical to have the level of service their Vermeer dealer provides.
“Beyond just the monetary savings, we benefit from our relationship with our Vermeer Heartland dealer through the relationships we’ve built because of their service,” Michael said. “We consider our dealer a friend, and he has opened up a lot of opportunity for us. The relationship goes well beyond dollars and cents with our equipment maintenance.”
This article contains third-party observations, advice or experiences that do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Vermeer Corporation, its affiliates or its dealers.
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