Paving the way for tree care business growth with a compact articulated loader

Providing a full line of tree care services — from large tree removals and stump grinding to trimming and tree storm preparation — to customers in a growing area around Tampa, Florida, has Randy Looney thinking growth. He manages the single crew for Bluegill’s Tree Service LLC, and he knows expansion is in the cards for the next year.

That process has already begun with the recent addition of a Vermeer ATX530 compact articulated loader (ATX). Looney’s story is one of how adding a single mini loader has opened many new doors, from both day-to-day operational and long-term business management standpoints.

Tampa, Florida, is a densely populated area comprising more than 30 different communities, so Looney’s crew stays busy working for residential and commercial customers in about a 40-mile radius from the company’s headquarters. The combination of growing customer demand, an increasingly limited labor pool and the efficiencies new equipment can create all contributed to the integration of a Vermeer ATX530 into the Bluegill’s Tree Service lineup in 2020. Reflecting on how the machine has changed how he works, Looney recalled an adage that is driving workforce evolution in the tree care business and others. “The ATX530 helps us work smarter, not harder. It’s made us a more versatile business,” said Looney, who works with Clearwater, Florida-based Vermeer Southeast Sales & Service Inc., Territory Representative Darrin Jensen. “There are only so many hours in a day, and we can get more jobs done and save time and energy on the jobs we do. We can work a lot smarter on the jobs that call for it.”

Tree care jobsite benefits of the small articulated loader

Working on mostly residential jobsites in the rich, wet Florida soils prove the mettle of the ATX530. Looney has consistently been challenged by working in tight spaces, especially when removing trees from backyards where navigating around things like air conditioners and other obstacles is part of the job. The combination of the machine’s small footprint, maneuverability and minimal ground disturbance has helped Looney mechanize a job that he and his crew previously did by hand.

“With its small footprint, the ATX is perfect for getting between houses, and with its rubber tires, we can minimize ground disturbance and turf tear up. We’ve become so much more efficient with this machine,” Looney said. “It helps our guys work better, too. Before, we’d cut up logs and flip them onto a flat trailer or get them positioned at the chipper by hand. That job is so much easier with the ATX530 and how it helps us work so much closer to houses.”

How the ATX530 is spawning tree care business growth

Beyond the operational benefits of the ATX530, it’s helping Looney accomplish his business growth goals. The productivity the machine adds to tasks his crew previously did by hand has enabled him to complete a larger number of tree removal jobs because of new levels of maneuverability and power. Those same characteristics of the machine have also made a new category of jobs possible that were previously not accessible for time and labor reasons.

“I can get in and dig out entire rows of hedges or smaller stuff like that, then haul them out with the bucket attachment. We can now grow revenue doing smaller landscaping jobs along with our larger tree removal jobs. We haven’t had that kind of versatility in the past,” Looney said. “Every job is different, and we don’t always take the ATX530 on every jobsite. But we can apply it to so many types of jobs. I can also be a little more competitive with providing customers with job estimates because of the time and energy the machine saves us. I know I’ll be done with a lot of jobs faster with the ATX530.”

Helping solve the tree care labor challenge

That sort of time savings comes at a critical point in the evolution of Bluegill’s Tree Service, Looney said. Finding and retaining labor is an increasing challenge for his business, even more so now that expansion is on his mind. He’s always prided himself and his crew on working hard, and that’s enabled him to add the ATX530. As a tight labor situation continues to strain his growth plans, Looney will look toward other equipment like the ATX530 that can directly contribute to maximizing his crew’s productivity and overall business capabilities.

“We kind of dove right into the water and committed to this machine, and we really got something good. All the elbow grease we’ve put in over the years got us this machine. We’re doing a little better every year, and I like the lineup of labor and machines we have now that we’ve added the Vermeer ATX530,” he said. “It’s made our work easier on a lot of jobs and it’s opened some new doors for us. We do every job we can.”

This article contains third-party observations, advice or experiences that do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Vermeer Corporation, its affiliates or its dealers. Testimonials and/or endorsements by customers in specific circumstances may not be representative of normal circumstances experienced by all customers.

MultiOne SRL Corporation reserves the right to make changes in engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at any time without notice or obligation. Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region. Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications.

Vermeer and the Vermeer logo are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries. © 2021 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

A cutout of a Vermeer ATX530, a type of compact articulated loader.


The Vermeer compact articulated loaders (ATX) are designed to meet the need for a highly maneuverable, versatile machine while having an added benefit of low turf disturbance. 

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