When I reached the age of 12, I saved enough money to buy a brand new Stihl chain saw and started selling fire wood along the road. Back then I could make about $150-200 dollars a cord and it would take me about 4 hours to cut and split. That was good money for a 12 year old boy. My grandfather went in for open heart surgery, and I was asked to help feed most all the animals on the farm. We had about 150 head of cattle at that time and maybe 50 horses. I remember loading an old Chevy 4×4 pick up with hay and grain and heading out to the fields every morning to feed all the livestock. Around the feed racks was always very muddy so we also had to put the trucks in four wheel drive to get the feed there. That was my last year of public school, because every year my family needed my help on the farm. Most of the book smarts I have now I taught myself. I must have done okay because I married to a school teacher and she is impressed with what I know.
When I was 14 my dad started letting me operate the 1959 International TD-14 bull-dozer by myself, they weight about 30,000 lbs and a case 580 back hoe. This dozer did not have all the fancy hydraulics that the new ones have these days. It took me a few months and I was pushing dirt level, also called getting “a knack for the track”. My parent’s house was built on a hill side, so my dad and I were either digging in or filling out the hill so we could have a bigger yard or a place to build a shop or barn. Working with my dad and grandfather I learned things about many trades. There were times we had to round up 50-150 head of cattle for vaccinations. We took beef and milk cattle to auction a few times a year. We trained standard bread race horses to pull carts around a practice race track we built on the farm. (you can still see it on a Google Earth search: Mud Lake Eatonville WA.) I even trained my own horse from the time it was a colt.
My grandfather was one of the toughest, most ornery, mean old farts you could imagine. He would yell and cuss like no other when I made a mistake. This taught me to have common sense around equipment, logging and working on the farm. But one day I watched him fall a large fir tree the wrong way. He misjudged the lean and it took out the high-voltage power lines when it fell across the road. From this I learned the valuable lesson of not to misjudge the lean of a tree. I learned about face cuts and back cuts. My Grandfather and I planted many trees on the farm. He taught me that it’s important to replant the trees we cut. That they let off oxygen, and that they can provide privacy or shade. Today I use a chain saw like most office people use a pencil or computer. I started logging and tree cutting fir and alder trees in the woods by myself by the time I was fifteen and skinning the logs for poles to build a pole barn or skids on the feed racks for the cattle. I would use the bull dozer to drag the logs out of the woods. I had a double headed axe that I used for spitting fire wood, that worked very well for skinning the bark off the logs. When a fir tree is freshly cut down, the sap under the bark acts like butter, and skinning fir logs is pretty easy. You could say that tree cutting, climbing and operating heavy equipment was born into my blood.
When I turned 16, I went to work for my dad’s stucco / construction company till I turned 18 and moved out of the house. I drove his big flat bed dump truck, to haul materials and sand to job sites. I used fork lifts to load and unload the truck, man-lifts to get to hard to reach places. I used bobcats to clean up job sites. I had become a juryman lather and plasterer by the time I was 18 and was firing the lazy guys on the crew as directed by my dad. Some of the guys that worked for my dad hated the fact that I could get more work done than they did and I was a fast learner. I then went on to work for other construction company’s till I got hurt in 1994. I fell 22 feet when a scaffolding came apart. I was taken to a hospital and was told I had a sprained ankle. Two months later my doc got frustrated with me for acting like I was in pain. He ordered a cat scan and found out that I had fractured my right foot and quickly got rid of me as a patient. I spent the next two years on crutches or in a wheel chair. During that time I had bought a set of tree gaffs (spikes/hooks) and a tree climbing belt. When I was able to return to work I needed to take it easy on my foot, so I took up long haul trucking. I drove all kinds of big trucks from 1997 till about 2002. I drove 53’ dry vans for interstate trucking, they hauled all kinds of dry commodities from ware houses to stores. I drove Heavy Haul flat beds for Metro. They hauled a lot of lumber and dry wall. For Puget Sound International I pulled reefers and mainly hauled edible commodities. Some loads were of hazardous materials. I drove a step deck for a small outfit out of Tacoma for a few months, till their pay checks where no good. We hauled dozers, excavators, bobcats, tractors and lumber up and down the west coast.
My first tree climbing job began by taking down a large dead maple tree by climbing and topping it in my back yard. Not long after, I did a few tree removals for neighbors and friends. I then went to work for a local tree service company as a tree climber and cutter / feller. I learned how to walk out on limbs, some times more than 75’ off the ground and do tree trimming of the outer canopy. I do this by climbing high into the tree and then I would double my safety or repelling line around the tree or over a branch and repel to the location out on the branch that needed to be cut off or trimmed. Sometimes I would tie another rope onto the branch to lower it to the ground, so not to damage property below. I did many dangerous tree removals for them most after a major storm. I remember climbing 130 foot fir, leaning up against the back side of an apartment building, only to be over the side walk in the front. There are times I have used zip lines to remove branches and sections of tree to make the job safer and faster. There are many trees where there is room to fall them but have limited access for these jobs I sometimes use an excavator or bobcat skid steer loader to pull or push the tree over. I cut a huge dangerous cotton wood tree down for the city of fife. It was near high voltage lines and homes. I used a sling shot to shoot a bean bag tied to a fishing line high into a crotch in the tree. Then I pulled a 1/8 inch line that then pulled a bull rope into the tree. Tied the bull rope to the excavator, and put tension on the rope, I then safely cut the tree down, as the neighborhood watched.
I have also worked for a couple excavation companies doing side sewers, site development, road building, driveways and clearing.
In 2006 I was able to purchase a F350 dump truck and 35 size excavator and a large bobcat skid steer. After getting laid off in 2006 I started my own company Bobs Property Solutions. In 2007 I purchased a brand new $100k 50 size excavator with atachments and later that year I got a $75k International 4×4 dump truck. This was my start in business. I have since added many attachments for doing tree and dirt work. In 2009, I purchased a Ford 4×4 F550 chip truck, Vermeer 12” chipper and 75 size excavator. That was about $80k worth of equipment acquired in 2009. In 2010, I added a mini stand-on skid steer for doing tree removal, pulling brush and firewood from customers back yards, and I built a custom log and brush grapple for it. Also in 2010 I added a $40k dump trailer that will is custom built to haul the 75 size excavator. Needless to say I have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to better service my customers.
I love the work I do. Often times you see a view from the tree tops that you never knew existed. Climbing dangerous trees is always an adrenaline rush and dangerous. One that always causes me to say my prayers. It’s an amazing skill to climb high into trees with a chainsaw, go to the very top to where it’s about four inches in diameter, cut it off the top and toss it. It’s even more challenging climbing dead trees or trees that are over roofs, power lines or other property that must not be damaged in the removal process. This is where careful planning and rigging experience comes in. Every cut and every notch will have an effect on the outcome of the job or the safety of the ground crew and myself. After making thousands of face cuts in trees I have learned a lot. But the challenge never ends. There are no two trees that are the same. Some times it’s important to bore the tree first to see if there is heart rot. I have seen 130’ fir trees with 36” stumps that have 24” of heart rot in the center. Rotten or dead trees, cotton wood or poplars do not make good hinge wood for directional felling in tight quarters.
Even operating heavy equipment takes another whole skill set. And when you are working in tight quarters you don’t want to hit or damage the customer’s property or home. If I were to go out today and purchase all of the equipment I own brand new it would cost about $750,000. When you hire me to do dirt work by the hour, plus a per day mobilization fee. I have been told many times that my customers cannot rent all the equipment I bring to the job for the the hourly rate I charge. Then even if you could, most people don’t realize that some days will burn up to $175 in just fuel. I will spend approximately one month out of the year just maintaining all the equipment and another month welding or building something for the company like a trailer or attachment. When I do this kind of work, I don’t get paid anything. I write a lot of free estimates which also doesn’t pay the bills. My point is just because you spend $1000 a day or more with my company does not mean I get to take even half of that home to my family. There is a lot more work that goes into maintaining and advertising a company than meets the eye.
Why would you want to hire a reputable reliable contractor? If you only have one car that your family and kids rely on and it breaks down who would you have fix it? Would you give some tools to the neighbor kid or back yard mechanic and tell him you will buy him a milkshake or case of beer to fix it? Or would you take it to a reputable shop because your family relies on this car to get you to work to put food on the table? It’s the same with hiring a contractor, what is your home worth to you. What do you do if the contractor lets his insurance expire and he accidentally drops a tree on your home, or worse yet your neighbors house!! I have seen this happen time and again. It happens more often one would think.
Here are a few more stories. A friend of mine Scott referred a felling job to me a few years ago. On this job I would have had to climb and cut in half about 12 of the 25 trees that needed to be logged out of the back yard. I bid the job for $3300, my unlicensed and uninsured competitor got the job for $3000 cash, and was not going to pay the state tax. Three months later my friend Scott told me about what happened to his friend’s home. The unlicensed contractor had made a tree fall through his home. So now not only did he have to repair his home with his own insurance, he had a mess in his back yard to finish
I have gotten several calls from customers that I have given bids to over the last couple years telling me that the contractor took their money and the logs, but left a big mess. They then ask if I will come clean up all the brush for $100. It’s unfortunate that this happens and I'm not going to work for free. Giving money to a tree service contractor (or any contractor) up front is not a very good idea. I can tell you from my experience working with some of these tree guys that there are more than a few that give the honest ones a bad name.
What kind of work history does Bob have?
I’m Bob, I wanted to share with you about some of my life long work experiences in excavation, tree services, stump and land clearing. This is why you may want to hire me.
I grew up on a 350 acre ranch near Eatonville Washington about three miles from N.W. Trek. Our property surrounded Mud Lake. When I was a baby my mom had to milk calves every morning. I was told they made a play pen for me out of bales of hay. So you “could” say that I was raised in a barn. I remember as a small child watching my family operate the heavy equipment on the farm and that became my dream, “to become a heavy equipment operator, logger and truck driver in life”. I started helping my dad in the woods get fire wood when I was 8 or 9. At the age ten I told my dad I would take care of his 50-60 pigs he had in the barn. I’m not sure why I volunteered but I loved to work and I liked the pigs. At one point I took one of the baby pigs and trained it to be my pet.