Jul 20, 2013

If you’re thinking about scheduling tree work now, unless it’s an emergency, think early September. Prior to June 14, 2013, we were having a terrific year. The combination of improving consumer optimism and lots of pent-up demand, was driving company sales up significantly over 2012. Prior to June 14th our backlog was running about four weeks despite our (larger) crews working substantially more overtime. Everything changed June 14th. A fast moving regional weather front brought very high straight winds from the North. Our drought damaged trees standing in squishy soil caused by rainfall 50% above ‘normal’ brought more trees down than any local storm since Dunwoody in 1998 (yes including Katrina and three other hurricanes in a 6 week period).

The next two week period brought numerous large and complex removals which forced customers to wait longer (many of whom had already been waiting 3 – 4 weeks.) Then came the avalanche of calls from customers who had wisely waited until after the drama to schedule the cleanup of non-emergency fallen or damaged trees. Despite adding a sixth crew, our backlog has doubled. As Atlanta tree removal experts, naturally, our work has been in high demand.

We’ve only worked on Sundays two or three times in the last ten years. But in that two week period, we worked both Sundays. In the last four weeks, many employees have worked in excess of 140 hours per two week pay period — with several reaching 150 hrs. It’s serious to work that much as an office worker, but it’s dangerous in this line of work.

Our customers have been understanding and almost universally supportive. The good news is that trimming is best performed after the heat of Summer subsides — (generally after Labor Day.) Our sales arborists are generally able to perform assessments and estimates within 2 – 3 days of your call. And operationally, we’re back to working 5 days a week (vs. 6 of late, and vs. 4 normally), thus providing important margin to respond to emergencies. The bad news is that we can normally expect some locally high winds during Summer thunder storms and Fall hurricanes. Remember that most of Atlanta area trees have drought damaged root systems and are still supported by water soaked soil. We do expect to experience a lot more falling trees over the next year.