My Dad was born and raised in South Africa.
He arrived in the US by way of college in the Netherlands, two years working on the Kibbutz in Israel, and a beautiful American woman. You can fill in the blanks. Dad worked hard at Dillard Paper Company as one of many cogs in a corporate wheel. To get by, we cleaned office buildings and churches on nights and weekends.
I grew up the oldest of five children in southeast Raleigh, among the other working class families that made up our neighborhood.
Dad taught me how to work hard, attention to detail, and how to solve problems. Mom taught me tenacity, integrity, and gave me a love for learning.
In 1997 Dad founded Leaf & Limb Tree Service.
Word of mouth and a $50 ad in the local Ad-Pack garnered him his first clients. He was always fair and delivered high quality services, so his reputation spread. Plus he would hang out and chit chat, which always made people happy. Over the coming years, he built a loyal client base.
He had attained his dream of owning a small business in America. It did not make him rich, but at least he loved his work and could now enjoy time with his family.
Fast forward to 2008. The economic downturn was devastating for the tree service industry.
By the end of 2009, dad and mom were facing very real hardships, like many Americans during those years. But with everything I had learned thus far in my career, I had developed some skills and experience that could help Leaf & Limb.
Those early years were hairy. Dig out of holes. Get the business in order. Get financially solvent. Advertise. Acquire clients. Organize. Think outside the box. And bootstrap – a LOT.
Luckily, we were (and are) quite creative.
We established our values, chief among them “do the right thing” and “thirst for knowledge.”
We read everything we could get our hands on, always on the lookout for deeper truths, whether relating to trees, people, business, or existence. We soaked up knowledge like a sponge and expanded from traditional removals and pruning into the complex world of tree care and consulting. Most importantly, we worked to build a company that improved the lives of our employees and provided real value for our clients.
Along this journey we realized that we must do more than improve the lives of our employees and clients.
We must also improve our community and our planet. Especially our Planet.
As we learned more about trees, soil, insects, birds, and our ecosystems in general, we began to truly understand the severity of the environmental issues we are facing here on Earth.
We’re seeing a huge decrease in biodiversity, rise of air pollution, loss of our topsoil, disappearing drinking water, and an increase in oxidized carbon in our atmosphere – just to name a few.
As it turns out, trees are one of Nature’s most powerful tools for overcoming these issues and creating a healthy planet. Nature provides us with the solutions we need. Our role is to foster and promote these natural systems by planting trees, caring for the trees we have, and spreading awareness about the importance of trees.
This led to a sobering realization in 2019:
If trees are so important to the health of our planet, how can we justify cutting them down?
At this time, nearly half of our revenue came from cutting down trees. What to do? We struggled. To exit removals was to put our business in danger. But in the end we chose to do the right thing - we quit cutting down trees.
Looking back, that decision was worth it because we finally discovered our true purpose: we care for trees because we love our planet.
In all honesty, we are nowhere close to where we want to be. We still have much to do. We can do better. And we will.