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“It’s been my life.”

December 17, 2020

In this episode of the Green Industry Perspectives Podcast, Ty Deemer welcomes Mark Chisholm to the show. Mark is a third-generation, certified arborist with his family-owned Aspen Tree Expert Company in New Jersey. His expertise in tree care has made him a sought-after consultant and industry spokesperson for the world of arboriculture, and he regularly travels the globe to consult with international arborist associations and conducts educational sessions nationwide on behalf of STIHL Inc. Additionally, he has won the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) New Jersey Chapter Tree Climbing Championship 21 of the last 22 years and won the ISA International Tree Climbing Championship in 1997, 2001 and, again, in 2010.

Tune in as Mark shares his love for the Tree Care Industry, it’s community, and where it’s heading.

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On this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How Mark’s journey into the tree care industry started with his family.
  • The importance of community in the tree care community.
  • About an online forum built for tree care professionals to collaborate.
  • Mark’s way of bringing the tree care industry to the next level.

Links to love:

Full Transcript:

Ty Deemer:

You are listening to The Green Industry Perspectives podcast, presented by SingleOps, a podcast created for green industry professionals looking for best practices, tactics and tips on running their tree care or landscape business. All right, everyone. Welcome back to Green Industry Perspectives. I’m your host Ty Deemer and today we’re welcoming Mark Chisholm to the show. Mark, thanks for joining us. 

Mark Chisholm:

Hey, my pleasure, Ty. Thanks for having me. 

Ty Deemer:

Yeah, Mark. We always start off the show with the same question and we ask our guests what are the top three things they see tree care professionals or arbors doing or tree care companies, what are they doing, what are the top three common threads that are making them successful in their business? 

Mark Chisholm:

Yeah, that’s actually a really good question. No one’s really put it like that before. I would say just off the hip, the best companies that are really thriving in this market or in any market from my standpoint are probably doing some similar things in that one is they’re probably providing a very kind of structured environment for their employees, meaning they know what to expect. When they show up for work every day, they understand their job tasks, they understand what’s expected and then they’re held accountable I think if you do that, I think it helps everyone thrive. I think they’re also doing great customer care as far as making sure they’re listening to their customer needs, attending to them and making sure that that’s one of the top values for their employees to address as well when on somebody’s property. And then probably lastly, quality of work is obviously a key component to any business. But I think beyond that, I would say they’re really probably stressing safety and the need to work safe and to comply with standards. If you’re doing that, you’re having great employee engagement, you’re dealing with your customers well and then you’re providing a great service that’s top notch quality and everyone’s going home safe. 

Ty Deemer:

Yeah, those are great points. It’s just the idea of setting clear and thoughtful expectations with your team and your customers and then living those out every day. That’s a great start. We also just to kick off the show like to give the audience the perspective of who our guest is. So, I know in the tree care space, you’re actually decently well-known as like an incredible climber but you obviously work for your family’s business. So, I’d love for you to just provide your background and kind of how you’ve been involved in the tree care space for the last couple of decades. 

Mark Chisholm:

Yeah. Well, since I was a kid actually. But yeah, I mean I guess my answer is like how do I not get involved in the tree business. It’s been my life probably since I was born. But I’m smiling if you can’t tell that by the way I’m talking if you can’t see me. But it’s only because it’s been a joy. I mean I can’t really express it enough that when you find something that you really love to do, I mean it’s just a great thing to be a part of. And when you surround yourself with people who love what they do which is my story, it helps you thrive and makes every day just more enjoyable. So, I guess the long and short of it is I started out as a kid in the business because my father started our business with my mother back when I was like five years old. He was in the business when he was a kid as well because his father did tree work when he was a kid and then got him started. And then my grandfather got out of it at some point. My father continued on because he had really loved it, found it was a passion of his and then worked for some other business for a while and then decided to start our own which I’m grateful for by the way because it’s given us a place to really do things our own unique way which is really enjoyable. But I guess the career path for me was started climbing at the age of 12 with family members and good friends of the family and had great mentorship. I worked alongside my brother who’s two years older, my father every day, a number of people who were really important to me through the years and that was kind of my start in the business and I was kind of brought in to learn it from the ground up literally. And I think that’s a great way to do it by the way if you’re wondering how to start in tree care. The ground up is perfect for me. 

But then I guess I got involved in a lot of other stuff again from my mentors. They kind of pushed me into directions that I didn’t know to go until I started getting kind of pulled in different directions and before it you know it, you network, you know people and you find all these different places that need your help or want something that you can do and you can gain from them and it’s a really great kind of feeling to be able to do that. So, be that teaching tree care to fellow colleagues or new people coming into the industry, that’s one thing I’ve been doing through the years, developing relationships with businesses and companies like Stihl and Teufelberger and Kask has helped me even reach more and more people than I ever could imagine trying to reach on my own, partnerships with TCIA and ISA through the majority of my career. It’s just been one thing after another literally and has never been boring and it’s never been anything but rewarding for me. 

Ty Deemer:

Absolutely. That’s great. And then you covered the personal side. On the business side, you mentioned that you’re now a part of a family-owned business. Just so listeners have an idea, what’s the company name, what part of the country are you all in, what kind of the company history there? 

Mark Chisholm:

Well, our company is Aspen Tree Expert Company. We’re located in Jackson, New Jersey and we’ve been in business since 1976. We do all phases of tree care from plant healthcare and all the way up through utility arbor culture. And we currently have about 40 something employees, 42, 43 employees. Yeah, we’re just a happy functioning business that I’m probably not alone here and I know I’m not alone because I talk to a lot of people in my industry from around the globe and this year in particular has been our best year ever. And it just feels good to feel like you’re firing on all cylinders. 

Ty Deemer:

Absolutely. That’s great. So, back to kind of more the personal side, you touched on kind of starting from an early age, started climbing at 12 years old. And obviously, the climbing side of your job has been something that not only has provided you with a career but also a community. And I’ve gotten the chance to experience some of that community at some tree climbing competitions last year at the International Tree Climbing Competition. I would love, obviously, you’ve done pretty well at the climbing side of things. I would love for you to talk about what kind of just that community has built for you in the tree care space. 

Mark Chisholm:

Yeah. Great question again. Tree climbing obviously is probably my top favorite thing to do in tree care. Of all things, doing the tree climbing and working in the industry out in the field is where my heart is. That’s where I was today all day. I could go in an office and probably do more work for our business to help it grow more. But at this stage in the game, I still feel there’s a real need for me to be out in the field and working with our crews and it’s a need for me as well. But the climbing has been huge. I mean apart from the daily workplace idea of climbing and how important it is to me, the competitions you mentioned. I started competing again based on some nudges from friends in the industry locally saying come out and see how you do. You’ll love it. You’ll have fun. Blah, blah, blah. This is at the New Jersey Championship. And I decided to give it a shot. I was 18 or 19 when I started it and my first year I did, I made some really bad mistakes. I was kind of embarrassed for me. My showing wasn’t bad I mean. I was number 5 out of 25 or so climbers, give or take. And being it was my first time, it was actually really good in hindsight. But I was embarrassed from some of the mistakes I made. So, I decided I’d want to do it again and see if I could improve as I knew I would. And I got a chance to come back the next year and took second place that year to the guy who was the winner the prior year and again this year and was a really good climber. I learned a lot from this guy, Glenn Dujets, and went on to the world championships for the first time that year because they would allow the top two people from each chapter at that time. It was not quite as popular so they had more spots that they could open up to second place runner-up if you wanted to go and pay your own way. 

So, I did that to the far-off city of Philadelphia which is like an hour from me. Wasn’t super exotic but it was super convenient. My parents went, my brother went, a bunch of us went down there and I gave it a run at the world championships and I had pretty much the same exact thing that happened at the New Jersey Championship my first year there. I went there. I was intimidated. I looked around I didn’t feel like I was as good as everyone around me. I watched what went on. I felt like my gear was inferior compared to what I saw. I wasn’t quite up with the current latest and greatest probably. And I just went after it and tried to do well. I made some really big mistakes and again didn’t place well, was embarrassed by some of the things I did and knew I could do better. And there were some people there who encouraged me that year and I’ll never forget it. I mention it every chance I get. But one person in particular is this guy named Sam Noonan. Sam is a climber who was a two-time world champion. Probably I believe it was in the late 70s, like ‘78 ‘79-ish and was a phenomenal guy. 

He came up to me and grabbed me. He’s a big, strong guy from California, Santa Rosa. And he said you did good there. Don’t be embarrassed. And I was in the aerial rescue and I ran out of time which means ultimately the victim probably passed away which isn’t good. So, I said some joke to him like you don’t want me rescuing you kind of thing because you’re not going to make it or something. And he laughed and he said, you got a good attitude. He says listen, that was really good skill. He said, you had some bad things. You can clean that up real easy. It was bad luck, a lot of ropes got tangled, it was a different atmosphere then. But he encouraged me to come back and I never forgot that the whole year after that. I said I am going to try to come back. The funny part about it, all things that I think about now is how it all worked out, the fact that he was from Santa Rosa and the world championships next year was going to be in Oakland, California. And I knew I’d see him there and he kind of told me if I don’t see you, I’m coming back to see you in Jersey. And I said uh-oh. I said, I better get there because I don’t want Big Sam coming looking for me. But no, it was really encouraging and I got a taste for how competition when I was a kid was competition. I played soccer when I was real young for five years. Then I got into wrestling for three years. And the wrestling side, it’s you against someone else and yourself more than, I didn’t know that then, but actually you’re battling yourself quite a bit. And that taught me some stuff but it was super competitive. And tree climbing it’s competitive against yourself but you’d be surprised if you sit—like you know Ty, you’ve been there—you listen to people in the audience, all the other climbers want the others to do great. They still want to do their best. Nobody’s rooting that somebody makes a mistake and gets disqualified. When you get disqualified, everyone’s like heartbroken. Like they don’t want to see that. No one should go home being DQ’d from a little mistake or an infraction. But it happens. That’s the rules. 

But it’s a great experience and those encouraging folks touch me still to this day in a way that they probably don’t even know it. Maybe they do. I don’t know. I haven’t really spoke to them about it directly. But it makes me want to do more for other people in the same position, meaning I go to a world championship now and I just encourage everybody. I just sit there and I tell them how it is. I see talent, I tell them you’re talented. Yeah, you got messed up on some rule infraction. Don’t let it throw you off. Come back. You’re going to love it and be a good sport. You’re going to smile all day. You’re going to go home and feel great and want to come back. 

Ty Deemer:

Yeah, absolutely. Last year’s world championship in Knoxville, that was my first experience on that big of a scale of a competition. And I was so impressed with the community that’s present at those events. You hit the nail on the head. Everyone’s encouraging. Everyone’s excited. If there’s any companies out there that have climbers that maybe don’t know about getting involved in those competitions, I would definitely encourage it. I’m sure you could sell them even more than I could. But it really is a great thing. 

Mark Chisholm:

Yeah, I agree with that wholeheartedly. When someone asks me like what could I do to become a better climber, the first thing I tell them obviously is learn some of the things that you’d find in the ANSI standards and I’d say go to Tree Buzz, my website and look at what people are suggesting with techniques that can help you every day. I say but above all, when you have time, there’s two events that I always push people to. One is going to a championship just to watch it if you don’t want to compete or participate on another level by being a volunteer and donate your time. It’s not going to hurt you. You’re going to get so much out of it and you’re going to feel like part of something bigger than the daily grind and you’re going to learn. You’re going to walk away and say, this climbing system I saw or the way this person moved or watching this girl climb up a tree with this ascent system, it’s just so exhilarating as an arborist to go home. You have that in your head for the whole next year until you see these people again and it just fills you. And next thing you know, you’re excited to go to work and try that technique and buy something new and put it to good use. And then the second event I would say is like for me is going to like a show like the TCI Expo. That’s a place where you get to mingle, look at the newest great latest gear, learn some techniques from people, walking on a show floor, go to a class, pick up an educational unit here and there. These two in particular, I wouldn’t miss any given year when they’re available. I’d definitely take advantage of them. 

Ty Deemer:

Absolutely. So, we’ve kind of spent some time touching on the in-person community that’s available in the tree care space and the ways you’ve been involved with it. But you’ve also created an online community for tree care professionals and arborists called Tree Buzz. It’s something that SingleOps sponsors and we like to look at it actively. But for those that might not be familiar, could you just give us a background about what Tree Buzz is, the story behind creating it and just go into that for us? 

Mark Chisholm:

Yeah. It’s another passion of mine Go figure, it’s related to tree care and tree climbing. So, why not, right? Like I didn’t have enough things going on. This actually hit me, I guess the easiest way to explain it so people understand it as organically as you can imagine. I mean picture late 1990’s. The internet’s pretty new. You still hear that dial-up connection going on and everyone’s trying to see like what is this thing that we’re going to, what’s it going to do for us, how can it help us. And I began thinking how can it help the community of tree care in a way that would be beneficial. And the first thing that came to my mind, I just created a place where we can as a community and anybody who wants to be a part of it, doesn’t mean you have to be an arborist because there’s plenty of people that are just, we call them rec climbers or recreational tree climbers, go on there and they share and contribute too. But it’s a place where you can go on your time in your time zone, any given hour of any given day, any given week and learn, share and engage just like you’re at the climbing championship, just like you’re at TCI Expo. So, it was a way for me to say this can actually give us a chance to do everything we love to do at these events that only happen one or two times a year all year, winter, rain or shine, night time, daytime, doesn’t matter. And that’s kind of where it became like the birth to the whole idea. 

And I started working on that concept. There wasn’t a lot of like there weren’t forums out there you could go to look at and try to understand. I didn’t know of any others that were out there. I later heard the ISA had one prior to Tree Buzz being out there. But I didn’t know it at the time. I thought I was doing everything just from scratch. If I knew, I could have probably learned and sped up the process. But I ended up researching software that was available at the time, started it on one software. We’ve since changed three different generations of software and countless updates to try to stay current. But yeah, the community is huge. It has a lot of same vibe as the in-person events do. The only thing I think is different is you get the once-in-a-while armchair know-it-all that chimes in just like social media and you got to weed that out and just understand it is what it is. It’s online. but the community does a great job of policing itself which is great for me because I don’t have to be in there with a heavy hand saying you can’t do that. They all just jump in and say, listen, be polite. We’re all here for the same reason. For anyone who hasn’t been on Tree Buzz, it’s not a website of like five people that know each other. We literally get 50,000 to 80,000 unique visitors every month. Not everybody talks. You don’t have to. But you’re talking like it’s a good number of people from all around the world. 

Ty Deemer:

Yeah, absolutely. And for those, like you said, that haven’t interacted with Tree Buzz before, the different variety of conversations that take place there are pretty impressive. You have everything from just pure talking about tree climbing to talk about rope techniques. You even have a section like dedicated to women in the trees and then you have sections like rant and rave about different gear. Like it’s pretty much your non-stop like shop for if you want to know what other people in the tree care industry’s opinions are, it’s a place to go. 

Mark Chisholm:

Yeah. I think it’s huge. And the value it doesn’t come from me. It comes from people like me, meaning anybody who has something to offer, you know as well as I do, you could go on there and help point people to the right spot to try to learn more about how to do the things that we call behind a desk because your software and everything that you guys provide helps businesses like us. So, it’s not about tree climbing. It’s more about the tree climbing or arborist community and everything we need and how we can help share like ideas that help one another and bring us all up to speed quicker and raise the bar as an industry. And I think that’s the power of it because it’s like everybody has a chance to contribute and share and help elevate the whole industry as a unit. And that’s the real beauty of it. 

Ty Deemer:

Absolutely. Yeah. I would really encourage any of the tree care professionals listening to go check out Tree Buzz. It’s a great place and what you’re going to find when you go there is probably some of the questions you’re seeking answers for right now, probably have been asked by someone else. And it really is a great online community and in today’s day and age, that’s pretty important. 

Mark Chisholm:

Yeah, for sure. And you know what’s different to me? Is sometimes we talk about social media. I do social media too. I’m not a big fan of like doing a lot of it. I do Instagram because to me it’s pretty easy to engage and there’s kind of uniqueness to that. But what I don’t like is like you get lost in one little sentences here and there. there’s no real like in-depth discussions. I was part of a group behind the scenes for tree climbers on Instagram and everyone would come in and they would post and before you knew it, somebody would ask you a question, for example, like what’s your favorite software for your business? And I wouldn’t know they asked because it’s so far back in the thread that I would come on, I’m seeing someone talk about chipper blades now and just read through it a little bit because there was so much interaction throughout the day. I never could keep up. I could never track it. It’s not like anything is kind of organized, for example, where you can follow it. So, the thing that’s great about a community like, for example, Tree Buzz is you could ask a question like what software do you guys love for managing your business and it’s there, it’s titled and now anyone who comes in there knows what we’re talking about and can follow it and jump in. And you don’t get lost that way. You can tag my name in there, ask me what I personally use and I’ll go on there and say, hey, we use SingleOps. And before you know it, it’s actually an engaging conversation where to me social media’s just kind of like swipe and look and laugh. And I like it for it’s worth but it’s not as educational as for and it’s not as engaging for me.

Ty Deemer:

Yeah. I couldn’t agree more with what all you just said. Thanks for touching all the points on that. I couldn’t agree more. I love what you’re doing with Tree Buzz. I’m excited to see how it continues to grow. You recently updated the whole site. The design looks great. I love the community that’s on there. Kind of moving to our next topic, earlier on you talked about how much you love being a part of your family’s business and it being your business and running the things the way you all want to run them and the benefit of that. And I think that’s just an important story to highlight while we talk through things. So, I would just love for you to touch on kind of what working for your family’s business has meant to you and what have been some of your favorite moments or highlights in doing so?

Mark Chisholm:

Well, I mean I got a bazillion great memories from growing up as a kid. I actually still remember the first tree I ever climbed. I remember the first removal I ever did. I mean it’s been a nonstop educational event if you will where the whole journey even to this day, I’m still learning. For example, I may still learn little tips and trick in tree climbing but I’m also learning tips and tricks for the stage I’m in in business, meaning when I started tree climbing, it was a company of like four employees. We didn’t have a lot of things to worry about. We all knew pretty much what we all knew and so on and so forth. But as you grow, obviously, you find things you’re not that skilled at just like tree climbing. Like I look at being a leader within my crew as a skill I need to work on and to build and to manage just like anything in the industry. And some thing goes on, I’m still learning how to do things more in the managing side of business where I’m learning how to do different kind of things that people who are good at business do. We have weekly meetings that we never used to have 10, 15 years ago because we didn’t really think we needed them. And now we’re growing as I guess you would say a management team if you will on that level too. So for me, the whole process of going from where we started to where we are is something I’ve enjoyed the whole process. And I’m still to this day, I don’t know how many years I’ve actually been doing tree work to be honest with you. I’d have to really think it through because you can’t say I started at 12 because I was only doing it on Saturdays and holidays and any chance I could take a day off from school to help out with the crew. 

But I mean in all honesty, here I am not early in my career and I’m still as excited as I ever was to go back to work the next day and work on how I can get better and how I can do more. And what I find drives me the most now outside of doing actual physical work which I still love to do and you can’t take me out of it for more than a day or I’m going stir crazy. But one of the things I love to do now is find ways that we can make our business a better place for our employees meaning not just their experience daily but also how can I make it better for them for their future? So one of the things we started struggling with a number of years again and I think a lot of smaller businesses can kind of probably relate to is you go from a two crew to a three crew, there’s definitely some levels that you have to work through where you hit these moments in time that are very difficult. Because everybody seems to be doing more than they should and maybe you’re not doing everything as well as you could, but you’re not at a level where you can hire to take over certain tasks, no one else on your team can take over those tasks, maybe they’re not in that level for that specific skillset. So all these growing pains that go on in business. 

And one of the things I think that helps me realize is that when you realize what you’re doing it for, it makes it worthwhile and it becomes possible then. So, for me, it’s not about going from three crews to four crews, four crews to six crews, whatever to make more money. It’s more about if I can make this a business where someone coming in today for a job interview looks around and says there’s a lot of place for advancement, a lot of opportunity to go from a ground worker to a climber to a crew leader to a bucket operator to a manager to a safety guy to a salesperson to a business behind-the-desk manager of some sort, bookkeeper. Just to be able to have something where people don’t feel like they’re bottled up and they’re not using all of the skills that they have, I think to me is really one of the best reasons to get up and try and grow your business.

Ty Deemer:

That’s great stuff, Mark. Yeah. I mean if there’s anything that’s been apparent to me in our conversation so far is that not only your love for the industry of tree care and climbing is apparent but also the love of your business and the people you work for. And if you have that, you can’t fake that is the deal. That’s got to be something that’s real. But because you and your team have that, I’ve talked to your brother and I know it’s with him as well, that that really is what’s going to drive a healthy, growing company. And I mean that can only trickle down to your employees.

Mark Chisholm:

And it’s super rewarding. At the end of the year and you’re looking around like where you started, what goals you set and now that we’re a better functioning management team, we set goals, we watch our goals, we create these rocks. We got to go through every quarter. We watch the business. We see if we made the marks. If we do, we feel great. If we didn’t, we learn and we say, all right, how do we get them next quarter? And I think part of what really is super rewarding is now it’s very easy for us to see and track where it used to be maybe you lose track of what your goals were in the beginning of the year and where you wanted to be by the end of the year. You get caught in the business of business and the daily grind can really grab ahold of you as I’m sure out there listening can attest to. So, to be able to find ways where you can set your goals, measure your goals, hold each other accountable and understand why you’re actually trying to achieve those goals makes it so much more enjoyable and actually not just rewarding but actually makes it so they’re actually achievable.

Ty Deemer:

Absolutely. Thanks for sharing that. So, to kind of go through like the last quarter of the show, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you to touch on some of the really more tangible things that you have advice on, really out in the field work and advice and a lot of the stuff you contribute to TCI, [eight? 00:27:27] articles for and we’ll add those to the show notes. But the two that we thought we might be able to cover through lightly was the article that you did for tips for your next crane job and then talking about rigging. So, for anyone that’s listening and maybe not familiar with your work, you do publish some of these articles. What do you view as just kind of the necessities to start a successful crane job? 

Mark Chisholm:

That’s one of the fun things for me to talk about. But like for me personally, if you don’t know it already, the job site stuff is what I’m most in love with, of course. And one of the things I’ve always loved about the work is there’s always an opportunity to make yourself better and learn as you go either from yourself or from other people. And one of the things that is really a driving force for me is probably, I would say there’s three things that are really on my mind when I write an article for example. One is how can I make this job safer than it was the day before? Because obviously, we know there is some risk involved. But on that note, I’m really quick to tell people, like I’ve been doing tree work since I’m 12 and not trying to brag, but I take on a lot of jobs that a lot of companies send our way because they don’t feel they’re capable or they don’t have the skillset which to me is kudos to them because that’s the smartest thing you can do. I do the same. I don’t lie and just jump in. I tell people how it is. If I don’t see a solution, I tell them that. We’ve taken on a lot of kind of higher risk jobs and I’ve never felt like a risk in my life. I have no real near-death experiences. I have no real horrible injuries. I mean I’m still playing ice hockey last night actually. Like I still physically can do anything I want to do. So, I always want to make sure that I tell people like, I’m all about trying to make people feel safer in what we do. But I don’t feel like we’re that at-risk as a lot of people paint that picture of like tree climbing is so dangerous. You’re probably not going to live to be 30. That’s not really accurate if you follow certain protocol. And part of the goal in these articles and the videos that we do like with Stihl, for example, and these arborist tips is how do we sell the idea of you can still be as productive as ever but then follow all the safety protocols that are out there for us so we go home safe and we can do it again and again and again and not have these horrible injuries. So, that’s number one.

Number two for me is how do I make the job easier. It’s a physically demanding job. I’m not saying shy away from hard work. If you’ve ever heard a talk I do like at TCI Expo, a lot of times I’ll end it on a phrase that I’ve created, I don’t know when it was, but I can talk about this later if you want, but I say work smarter and harder. I don’t like people who don’t want to work hard. What I try to say is don’t waste energy doing certain tasks where you can save energy and use it later for something else because it’s going to make you more productive and it’s going to make you enjoy the job more. So, I find ways that I think help me save energy so I could do more in a day and feel better when I go home and still hit the gym, go play hockey, spend time with the family, whatever. So, that’s number two. And then number three, I think the third thing I always try to do is help people realize like this can be a very enjoyable career. If you’re not having fun doing what you’re doing, there’s a lot of reasons that may be. But I try to help people and like look at this job as being something you should be proud of and something you should enjoy daily. 

Ty Deemer:

Yeah. That’s all great stuff. If anyone was looking for some of the resources you put out whether it’s through TCIA or through Stihl, where could they find those? 

Mark Chisholm:

Yeah. Actually, we put them out a lot of different places. So, if you follow the Stihl social networks at all like Instagram or any of the other ones, Facebook, all that, they post a lot of things, little tips and things that we’ve done, not just me but great tips in general. We also do an article we call an advertorial which is really just a little blog of mine that ends up being in Arborist News, ISA Arborist News or TCI Magazine. That goes out regularly in both. So, you can pick those up. I also post those quite a bit on Tree Buzz on the home page. So, you can look there. Articles are there. Also, some of the videos that we’ve done that are, like you said, like crane tips and other things, they’re on Tree Buzz under the arborist pro tips. It’s just a kind of like a library of some videos I’ve done in the last number of years, just little tips on how to do certain things that again, I think either make the job safer, make it easier or just make it more enjoyable. 

Ty Deemer:

Great. Yeah. So, to round out our conversation, I only have two more questions for you. The first one would be kind of broad question. But if you could describe or go back in time and speak to your younger self about going into the tree care space, obviously, it was a no-brainer for you, but what would be the one thing you’d tell yourself then that you know now? 

Mark Chisholm:

First thing I would say probably to my younger self would be hold your head up high, be proud of what you do because early on, I’ll be honest, when I was a high school kid learning to climb, I was super proud. I had friends that wanted to come work with me because I was the guy who would be at the roller skating rink buying everybody pizzas and sodas because I worked on Saturdays. So, I had 25 bucks in my pocket and being 12 years old, that’s a lot of money to just throw around. So, they would say, hey, how’d you get this money? I said, well, I work. Well, what do you do? Next thing you know, my best friend’s like I want to come work with you. I want to get on the job. They come on a job and then they were like, number one, they were floored with business in general, like being out there doing tree work. They never really knew it was something that you could do. But number two, they were like super impressed that here is somebody they had no idea would climb to the top of these beautiful trees and swing from a rope and walk on limbs and do all these things that they thought was like a superhero. At that point in time, I was really proud of what I was doing. As we fast forward through high school, everyone went off to college, started taking on college careers and everything else and we’d see each other somewhere at some event. Somebody had a party and we all got together. And they’d say, hey, what are you doing now? And I’d say, I’m doing tree work. And they’d look at me kind of like, you couldn’t find a real job? And so, it was kind of like making me feel kind of shameful that maybe I didn’t do something with my life. 

And so, for a short period of my life, I realized soon after, but for a short period of my life I thought why do people look down on the industry and people who do what I do? Because I don’t see it. I don’t feel it. I didn’t understand it. So, I actually made that as one of my goals, my lifelong goals at that point in time was I was going to be the most professional arborist I could. Every given chance I could with every homeowner, any chance I got to speak to someone about tree work and then when I started doing trainings, talking to my peers, talking to the general public, I would say how wonderful tree care is, why it’s such a great industry and why the people who do it are top notch. So, that was something that I would tell myself is like don’t let anybody fool you. If you love what you do, do it the best you can and be proud for what you do because you know more than they do and don’t go worrying about what other people feel or think about what you’re doing. 

Ty Deemer:

Wow, that’s awesome, Mark. I love that. I definitely feel like you’re fulfilling that lifelong goal as you go with just everything you’re doing. Just to wrap up the show, I always love to finish each episode with this because we talk a lot throughout each episode of kind of looking back and thinking back on things but ending it with just kind of a question of what comes next for you and what are you most excited about whether that’s going into 2021 or just what challenge you are trying to face at the moment? 

Mark Chisholm:

That’s a good question. One of the things that I would give advice to someone, even my younger self just to keep going on the same thing and bridge into this, I would say always be a student forever and always be open to change and advancements. And so, for me, one thing that I’ve always been lucky to do is things come my way through the networking of this great community, for example, this podcast. I never did podcast until 2020. So, being open to what is available now and what’s current now and not saying, oh, I don’t want to do that because I never did it before to me is the wrong thing to do and I think you’re going to regret it at some point. But so, 2021 for me is exciting because I really feel like the industry was not hit by the pandemic outside of everything else that everyone else feels. But as a business, it didn’t miss a beat. So, I think there’s going to be a lot of great opportunity for people to share their ideas, share their experiences and grow the industry even more rapidly in 2021. Because a lot of people are at home reevaluating and a lot of people are spending time working on their own advancements and some of that is going to trickle into great new technology for the industry. And I think that’s exciting as well. And I think a lot of people have kind of got this pent up excitement to get back out there and do things. This might’ve been a much-needed break for a lot of us, to be honest with you. So, I don’t look at things and say, oh, this happened and it sucks, it’s horrible. It’s absolutely bad in a lot of ways but what I like to do is don’t focus on that. Focus on what is it doing that’s actually a benefit and focus on that. And I think because of that, 2021 looks really bright. 

Ty Deemer:

Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. As we’ve been talking with people throughout the last eight to ten months, it really does seem like, although you could address that COVID has been very difficult for everyone in a lot of ways, the tree care space, the green industry as a whole really was able to respond well and really a lot of companies had their best year to date. And that’s so encouraging going into 2021. My one hope is that as 2021 rolls around, we’re able to kind of get back out there, start doing tree climbing competitions again, have to have the conference and all that stuff. Because the online world does get old after a while. 

Mark Chisholm:

It does. But you know what I think? I mean, and I’m not going to sit here and act like I know what’s in the future. I’m not a future tell. But I will say that I think there’s a lot of things we can learn from things. We’ve done this pivot. We’ve done podcasts. We’ve done virtual shows. We’ve done all these different things. I don’t think they’re going to go away. I think they’re going to be something we learn to add to what we’re already doing and use them in a real beneficial manner. So, I think it’s going to be again, I think we’re going to learn from this. But you’re right. The whole pandemic has been very difficult for a lot of the people. I mean we’ve even felt it here on the local front. We’ve had some of our employees come down with COVID and we’ve had to deal with that and I’ve taken numerous tests recently, the last six months just to also be proactive in that node as well. But it’s been difficult. But I do think as an industry, we have responded well. It’s been good. And I actually see an uptick in how people value their trees on a local front. I think that’s going to pay dividends. 

Ty Deemer:

That’s great. Well, Mark, I can’t thank you enough for your time. For the people that are listening, I’ll be linking in the show notes to a lot of the resources Mark has mentioned on this podcast. I know I’ve learned a lot even just in our short 40 minute conversation. So, Mark, thank you again for joining us and I look forward to talking or seeing you soon. 

Mark Chisholm:

Sounds good, Ty. Thanks for having me and I’ll definitely be back if you want me to come back on the show. 

Ty Deemer:

For sure. Thanks, Mark. Have a good rest of your day. 

Mark Chisholm:

Take care.

Conclusion:

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