Identify an opportunity, work hard, invest in yourself, never give up and find like-minded partners. These are a few of the cornerstones Pat Mahoney relied on to build West Coast Arborists — a company he made the first steps toward buying while he was still in high school.
“I was walking home from high school and George Waldhauser, who ran George the Tree Man, asked me if I wanted to help him do tree trimming. He said if I saved my money, I could buy him out,” recalled Pat Mahoney, president, West Coast Arborists. “I bought the business in 1973 and worked out of my mom’s garage.”
Fifty years later, the family-owned company provides professional tree maintenance and management services for over 330 municipalities and public agencies throughout California and Arizona. West Coast Arborists prunes over 500,000 trees every year and removes more than 18,000 trees annually. Hundreds of crews trim, remove and plant trees throughout the west coast daily.
Pat’s brothers Richard and Michael Mahoney and his sister Rose Epperson serve as members of the executive team as the next generation of the family-run business begins to work its way up. West Coast Arborists has relied on Vermeer equipment every step of the way. Their first machine was a Vermeer 630 stump cutter, purchased 50 years ago when they started out.
Partnering for success
A long-term relationship with Vermeer helps West Coast Arborists address challenges and continue to grow.
“We are very proud that we are an all-Vermeer shop. What I like most is the reliability of the product and the ability to work together to keep things moving forward and growing. We choose Vermeer because it is a brand that we can trust,” said Rose Epperson, vice president of finance, West Coast Arborists.
Rich Mahoney oversees the fleet and facilities. With a couple hundred crews working every day, safety ranks at the top of his priority list. It starts with equipment selection.
“We’ve been working with Vermeer from the very start, so I have a lot of confidence in the product,” said Rich Mahoney. “The [Vermeer] engineering department has really studied the way the machines are used and they’ve incorporated safety and productivity features that are really revolutionary.”
The company runs several hundred pieces of Vermeer equipment including BC1000XL, BC1500 and BC1200XL brush chippers and Vermeer SC802 stump cutters. This equipment is pushed hard to keep up with demand.
“We work hard 10 hours a day, six days a week. We have Vermeer equipment out there all day, every day using it 10 hours a day nonstop. It is reliable and it holds up for us and it really helps us get the job done. There’s no downtime,” said Rich Mahoney.
While competitors have provided machines for demonstration, nothing has been able to measure up to the proven reliability and operator friendliness of their Vermeer machines.
“If we switched Vermeer equipment out for competitors there would be an uprising with our field crews,” said Jim Russo, fleet manager.
Getting more done with the BC2100XL brush chipper
Vermeer is always there to help West Coast Arborists address fleet needs.
“Most recently, we came up against some challenges with storms and the amount of heavy wood that’s coming out of the trees in Sacramento and other parts of northern California,” said Epperson.
The large trees and heavy wood slowed the progress of crews trying to clear debris. The company turned to the Vermeer BC2100XL brush chipper as a solution.
“It gave the crews the ability to chip the whole tree. Before, on some of these bigger trees, they had to cut them. It was just 10 times as much labor,” said Pat Mahoney.
The efficiency of operations in northern California has since increased due to the capacity of the Vermeer BC2100XL.
“I am very excited about the Vermeer BC2100XL that we added to the fleet because I was one of the main advocates that wanted a bigger chipper for the northern California operation. It is living up to everything I predicted. We can get more done in a day with a bigger chipper,” said Rich Mahoney.
The investment allows better use of the fleet’s existing resources.
“Having that unit eliminates two other pieces of equipment that would have to be on the jobsite,” said Russo.
There are also labor considerations.
“The 2100XL lets us chip more wood with less work and less labor, which saves us money, saves us on insurance costs on the workers comp side,” said Pat Mahoney.
Getting MORE dealer support
Support from Vermeer helps West Coast Arborists maintain its continual growth trajectory.
“It’s a true partnership between the manufacturer, us as a dealership and the customer. For us as a dealership, it is a dream customer to have,” said Lance Barker, account manager, Vermeer RDO Equipment Co.
“The support that we get from Vermeer and RDO is a step above everybody else. We deal with Vermeer RDO Equipment on a daily basis. Lance is almost like an employee of West Coast Arborists because we see him so often,” said Russo.
The dealer’s expertise translates into increased jobsite efficiency.
“They don’t make excuses; they get the job done. It has been a great relationship. Lance is a great guy to have around, very knowledgeable,” said Rich Mahoney.
Due to California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations, RDO Equipment plays a key role in updating the West Coast Arborist fleet. The company needs to maintain a newer fleet that is CARB-compliant.
In this case, the high resale value of Vermeer equipment has proved beneficial as older models with useful life are sold to other regions. Some of these machines are 10 to 15 years old.
“We are getting today almost what we paid for them,” said Pat Mahoney.
The Vermeer factory has also proved very responsive to the company’s evolving demands. West Coast Arborists’ mechanics occasionally shared feedback with the Vermeer factory.
“The factory listened and made changes. They keep improving it over time. Vermeer gives us more dependability, reliability and safety,” said Pat Mahoney. “Our growth has not stopped and Vermeer has been right there beside us whenever we need more chippers.”
But the relationship is about more than machinery.
“If somebody asked me what they should buy, I would say you can’t go wrong with Vermeer,” said Pat Mahoney. “They give you more and they are there for you. They’ve been there for us for 50 years.”
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 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.
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