Four Seasons Tree Care: Rooted in Knowledge, Growing with Accreditation
As many business owners know, starting a new company can be a big risk. But many people who start their own business and are successful are glad they did; and they enjoy the freedom to innovate and create a different product or service of their own. Bryan Moller, CTSP, owner and president of Four Seasons Tree Care Inc, in Vista, California, completely identifies with those sentiments.
“Whenever you work for a company, you always see things you’d do differently if you called the shots,” says Moller. Following this kind of thinking, he and his wife, Christy, created Four Seasons Tree Care in July 2007. Shortly after starting the company, the Mollers hired close friend Adam Heard, CTSP, who, like Bryan, was also a certified arborist, to join the team as the company’s division manager.
“Bryan and I have both had experience working for different companies working in many different markets in tree care, so we discussed what we would and wouldn’t change about those experiences and used them to create our own style at Four Seasons,” says Heard.
That approach led them to becoming TCIA accredited within two years of being in business, and helped them earn a 2009 TCIA Professional Communications Award with one of their marketing tools.
Four Seasons’ variety of work covers the gamut, from commercial to retail, industrial to home owners’ associations and from apartment complexes to various municipal projects, with a mixture of clientele with differing needs. Many of the projects involve long-term management programs where hazard assessments, seasonal pruning programs and detailed removal recommendations are all part of the job. As Bryan Moller puts it, “We prefer to approach trees from the vantage point of the consultant. Our goal is not simply to trim or remove trees, but to provide enough information to our customers (so that they can) justify and feel comfortable with our recommendations. That can’t be done by simple QuickBooks estimates.”
Whenever a member of Four Seasons provides an estimate, they inventory every tree on the project, providing a general description and the tree’s location on the site, etc., whichHeard describes as “just another added touchto how detail and communication are part ofthe company’s standards.”
“Rooted in Knowledge” is the Four Seasons tag line and it is a statement they take very seriously.
“We try to provide as many educational opportunities to our community and customers as possible,” says Christy Moller, Four Seasons’ CFO. “Bryan and Adam are always preparing new materials for the lunch seminars they perform at our customers’ offices.”
Along with educational seminars, the company also produces an educational newsletter every quarter called “TREEtise,” for which they won the TCIA Professional Communications Award. “We didn’t want to create a marketing newsletter that just talks about our company – everyone does that and it doesn’t seem very effective,” Bryan Moller explains. “We figure that if we can make trees relevant, fun and interesting to a contemporary audience, then we’ve done exactly what we set out to do with the TREEtise.”
Within that same frame of mind, Bryan Moller and Adam continue to pursue and achieve as many educational accolades as possible. Both are already Certified Treecare Safety Professionals, and each is a few CEUs away from being able to apply for his Registered Consulting Arborist designation from the American Society of Consulting Arborists. They are also pursuing their ISA Board Certified Master Arborist designations.
It’s a work in progress and we have a long way to go,” Adam remarks, “but it’s important to us and we want to have that level of expertise to offer our customers and our employees… Our education allows us to continually provide new avenues for safety and efficiency to our crews in the field.”
Four Seasons employees are regularly provided cutting-edge equipment to stay up to date on the most recent adaptations and revisions to climbing and pruning techniques. As Bryan Moller puts it, “Our guys will always get the best; we’ve never had an employee quit on us, because we invest so much into each person from the ground up – literally.”
And they invest in the company’s future as well. Before 2009, pursuing TCIA Accreditation was not even on Four Seasons’ radar. It wasn’t until the 2009 TCIA Winter Management Conference in the Bahamas that Bryan and Christy realized – thanks to advice from Ben Tresselt, owner of Arborist Enterprises and a TCIA Board member – the value of becoming accredited.
“If it wasn’t for Ben and his zeal for the TCIA Accreditation designation, we may have dismissed the notion of even trying to become accredited,” Christy Moller says. “He really helped us see the value in it.”
As in many parts of the country, Four Seasons Tree Care has obstacles to overcome in regard to creating new work and retaining regular customers. “Our market is flooded with contractors cutting every kind of corner to sell low-cost jobs,” Heard says. “Some of our competitors are engaged in all kinds of craziness, from misclassifying workers to paying cash under the table or finding other unethical ways to keep costs low. We can’t compete with that. TCIA Accreditation helps to set us apart from those kinds of outfits and we appreciate the ability to provide that kind of security to our customers.” And that it does, according to Heard. The process for becoming accredited requires a complete disclosure of company finances, workers’ comp history, employee manuals, etc., explains Heard, adding that only ethical companies can enjoy the pride and achievement of the Accreditation seal of approval. From open books to company policies and procedures, the Accreditation program has a challenge for any company to increase its expectations, he says.
“Accreditation inspired me to increase the level of training our guys receive,” Bryan Moller says. To that end, five of their employees have become Certified Tree Workers and three more are in the process doing so. “We are very serious about our employees’ careers and want to provide them as many resources as possible to gain a sense of accomplishment and success.”
From the sound of it, Four Seasons Tree Care and its staff are achieving those goals.