Vermeer brush chipper drives efficiency for busy crew

Located in Atlanta, AKA Tree Service is owned and operated by twin brothers Jeremiah and Nathaniel Wilson. Jeremiah runs operations, overseeing work at a higher level for the company. Nathaniel is the vice president of sales and marketing. The family-owned business keeps busy with tree removal, trimming and pruning services for both commercial and residential customers. When it came time to add another Vermeer brush chipper to their operation, finding the right fit was critical. They needed the power to clear land efficiently with a compact footprint able to maneuver through neighborhoods.

An ISA-certified tree care company, AKA Tree Service prides itself on its approach to safety. Crews don’t take unnecessary risks and develop detailed action plans before starting work.

“We are doing everything from tree surgeon work to large logging,” said Jeremiah Wilson.

The company recently acquired a Vermeer AX17 brush chipper from Vermeer Southeast to meet their needs on diverse jobsites. The Vermeer brush chipper has already been used on projects ranging from 2.8 miles (4.5 km) of roadway clearing to residential tree removal.

Features and size make the AX17 popular

The AX17 is designed for tree care contractors performing high-production arborist work. With an intelligent feed system and a 130-hp (96.9-kW) Cummins T4F diesel engine, it quickly earned a coveted position among AKA Tree Service crews.

“I really wouldn’t trade it for anything right now,” said Oliver Hight, crew foreman with AKA Tree Service. “The brush chipper is very efficient, it’s compact, and I’d put money on that machine, the AX17, against any chipper I’ve ran in a long time.”

The AX17 has proved versatile for AKA Tree Services. “It is chipping anything from brush all the way to oak trees to pine trees. We’re talking 15- to 18-in (38.1- to 45.7-cm) logs,” says Hight. “It’s getting rid of everything. It gets the job done.”

The Vermeer AX17 brush chipper feed system helped maximize jobsite efficiency. “You can feed it all day without having to sit and babysit it like you do with a lot of the other chippers,” noted Jeremiah Wilson.

In addition to using it for commercial work, the AKA Tree Service crew recently used the AX17 at a residential client’s house to remove seven trees.

“With a land clearing project, pretty much everything inside the clearing limits is free game, and we can disturb the ground and mess up the area,” Nathaniel Wilson, owner and vice president of sales and marketing, explained. “On a residential project, it’s much more difficult. You can’t damage surrounding trees that they don’t want to be removed or trimmed. The AX17 is a perfect-sized chipper for a job like this. We have big trees in the Atlanta market where you need big chippers to be able to chip bigger material.”

Easy transport eases labor concerns

The AX17 offers many of the same advantages as the larger Vermeer AX19 brush chipper, but with a compact footprint. This makes it a great option for contractors who perform a lot of city work or those looking for a high-production chipper that can be pulled behind a vehicle without a Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL).

“It [the AX17] acts more like a 20-in (50-cm) chipper when it’s feeding and crushing and getting the material through, but it gives you the non-CDL requirement here in the state of Georgia, being less than 10,000 lbs (4,535.9 kg),” said Jeremiah Wilson.

When working with Class A CDL drivers, tree care businesses often have to take a different approach to staffing their crews. “Whenever you’re trying to hire a Class A CDL driver, they typically do not want to be working on the ground with the crew,” says Nathaniel Wilson. “So, it removes just a driver that drives the truck to the jobsite and sits in the truck or drives back and forth to the dump site.”

Eliminating a position focused solely on driving allows more flexibility for AKA Tree Service. “When you can do the same amount of revenue with less guys, it really allows you to allocate guys to a different job that might be more manually demanding,” said Jeremiah Wilson. “It allows us to shift our personnel where they need to go and allows us to maximize staff on our end from a planning standpoint.”

It’s about more than a brush chipper

For AKA Tree Service, working with Vermeer Southeast is about more than equipment. The business has found much needed support and expertise with their local Vermeer dealer.

“We keep coming back to Vermeer because they truly understand the tree care industry, from a safety standpoint to the time that is needed to run a successful business,” said Nathaniel Wilson. “It’s nice going to a Vermeer dealer where they have everything you need to run a tree company. You can tell they care about the industry more so than just trying to sell a piece of equipment.”

Jeremiah Wilson agreed, “The reason we keep coming back to Vermeer Southeast and Vermeer products is because of the service and the production of their products. One call, they answer. If they don’t answer, they call you right back. It’s just hard to find customer service like that these days.”

Contact your local Vermeer dealer to discover how they can support your tree care business.

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. Vermeer Corporation reserves the right to make changes in product engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing or distribution 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. © 2022 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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