Tree Company Acquisition

decreppo

New Member
Location
Charlottesville
I just found out that the company I work for is being acquired by Bartlett. I’ve only been working with them for a few months so this is a surprise to me.

I wanted to hear from any of you if you’ve gone through this type of transition before, or if you have worked for Bartlett or Davey or Asplundh and what your thoughts are of working for a big company.

I originally turned down a job from Davey to take this job with a smaller company. Even though they are small they do high quality work and I have enjoyed my time with them. They work hard but don’t try to put in more than 40 hours a week (unusual in this field). The owner is a family man, used to run the business with his wife, so he is all about having enough energy to take home to the kids. That was very important to me as my wife and I have a baby on the way. I don’t expect to see this at Bartlett. What do you guys think? Any insights on what to expect from Bartlett? What can I expect the experience to be there? Anyone have a feel for the atmosphere/culture of the company? How does it compare to working at a small 1 crew company? What might be different or unexpected? What can I be looking forward to?
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
I have a friend who works at Bartlett; he likes it overall and does not seem to work terrible hours. He has some complaints about how they do things - primarily the lack of equipment at each of the locations he has worked at, but that’s the only real issue I am aware he has with them.
 

Jzack605

Well-Known Member
Location
Long island
I’m currently working at Bartlett. Mostly PHC and climbing too. For the most part it’s been great, though there’s been some frustrating moments and bumps; but that is to be expected with any job. Overall it’s been a much better experience than the smaller businesses I have worked for. definitely a lot more opportunity due to their resources and capabilities.

Ive met some guys in the company that were part of acquisitions and they seem to have maintained the integrity of the OG business with the added backing of Bartlett. They don’t seem like they’re out to acquire companies and make drastic changes.

the safety culture gets a solid A and the work environment the same. You’re going to have access to some new tools you should take advantage of, particularly the research lab. And they put a lot of value in continued training, education and investing in their employees. They are happy to pay for the certs and tools you may need as long as you’re not a slacker. They paid for my ISA cert and TRAQ and CDL are next. When I tell them I need a tool for a specific job, they get it. It definitely helps that I’m highly productive and have an education with good experience (close to 15 years). I have a beautiful state of the art spray rig and the equipment, while some of it’s older, is maintained and fixed right away.

if you put in effort and care about what you do they will invest in you. If it’s just a job and you put in minimal effort you won’t get much in return. I see a lot of the guys in the latter category bitching which is ironic to me. You will learn a lot if you put in the effort.

I typically work Monday-Friday. 40-close to 50hr weeks. We have had a lot of work on Saturday's right now due to that tropical storm and a good backlog building up currently. The extra hours are never forced and there’s typically enough guys volunteering if I don’t feel like working a Saturday. They follow OSHA rules pretty strictly so they do put limits as to how many hours they’ll put on the crews as well as the safety culture dictates no one works more than they are capable. When a sales rep asks if we can squeeze in an extra job during the day, and the team says no, there’s no whip cracking or temper tantrum broken egos like I’ve seen at other jobs. So I see no threat to retaining a 40hr week if that’s what you prefer.
 

Boomslang

Well-Known Member
Location
NB
I think of the "big 3" companies you mentioned that Bartlett has the best reputation and atmosphere for employees. I worked a summer for them while I was in school and have nothing but good things to say. I didn't feel any production pressure, it was a fairly laid back place for workers, the management was approachable and reasonable, gear was hit and miss but mostly hit.
 

CjM

Active Member
Location
Asheville
Was acquired by Bartlett down here in Pisgah Forest, NC in 2018. I agree with pretty much everything posted above, but ultimately left to pursue a better wage for my skillset and experience (this is probably dependent on location and office). I've been with a small local outfit last year and a half, but I just this week signed a contract to be a safety specialist on vegetation mgmt projects in CA. I have to imagine that having Bartlett on my resume for sure helped get my resume pulled out of the stack. I'm fortunate that the company I'm currently with is fully TCIA Accredited, as is Bartlett. Maybe just fluff, but it looks good on paper and I prefer to work with those rare, fully accredited companies.

Employers know the reputation that Bartlett has for safety and training- they've been at it since 1907- you know, when Teddy Roosevelt was in the Whitehouse busting trusts. Overall I'm glad for my time with the company, and still have friends there. As others have said, they will pay for your certs, CEUS (safety meetings help build CEUS at Bartlett :cool:) and when I was there each cert (ISA, CDL, PAL ect.) came with dollar raise each. I was also fortunate enough to get to some trainings at the lab in Charlotte, which I thought were worth my while, and was also fortunate enough to get a personal golf cart tour of the lab grounds from Elden LeBrun, who's been in the game like 40 years.

Know that every Bartlett office is different. Some are bare bones, some contract out all of their removals to other local companies and only do PHC. The office I worked for specialized in big removals, had a lot of nice equipment that the mobile mechanic was always keeping up and running well, had the best shop ever (heated! flat screen tv!), everyone had SENAs, and everyone climbed SRT.

In my experience, complaints you may have are less overall Bartlett issues and more local office issues. In an acquisition, your boss now is likely to continue to be your boss. As far as corporate mgmt (at least at the division level), most have a lot of experience in production, and many have been with the company for a long time. People high up in the division knew my name from visiting the office and worksites fairly often. I liked that. Being able to ask Scott Profit in person why in the hell we had to give up our x-rigging tools (no rope manufacturer endorses double braids on a non-moving sheave apparently) in person and have a discussion about it made me feel like company policies were well thought through, and helped me wrap my head around them. Bartlett likes to crunch numbers, and crunching them across more than a century and 5 countries gives an interesting perspective on production at scale as well as made me more closely examine my own individual practices.

Bartlett is also actively looking to expand trainings and mentoring across the company, a great initiative in my opinion. Find out about becoming your office LOSC (Local Office Safety Coordinator). Be open minded, working for "Big Green" is better than some online may imply. There is room for advancement for those who are patient and who advocate for their own continued progression in the industry. Bartlett just bought HortSciences, a great example of the company's desire to remain a leader in "scientific tree care," and I think is a sign that the company still has room to evolve and expand.

Also, you can transfer between offices, and if your office slows down in the winter, they're pretty good about giving folks opportunities to travel to other offices for short stints to help with backlog and keep paychecks full.

Just don't bring up that video from England.
 

CjM

Active Member
Location
Asheville
I will add that there is likely to be a messy transition period, but you'll get back into your groove pretty quick, don't freak out the first month while you get your shop all supplied and adjust to a different shirt.

And now you got me diving back into my photos

BE4B77D6-F832-412C-8698-9069F9490594.jpeg
Espalier at the lab

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Elden explains root cages under sidewalks


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Crane training demo at the lab, I'm in the middle.

4EC879BE-B12E-48E2-B21C-66B7CD86F3E3.jpeg
Zach pollards. I think this was my last job for Bartlett


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If you're stylish like me, you'll get some very red saw pants for maximum contrast
 

Jzack605

Well-Known Member
Location
Long island
Yeah I have to reiterate the value of the lab. I was lucky enough to go down for a week of PHC training, I send samples down all the freaking time and I will be in direct contact with them often for questions or concerns.

the lab on it’s own is worth being a part of. It’s a unique tool to have at your disposal.
 

tomstrees

Active Member
Rarely have I seen good company acquisitions, often the buyer has more money that the type of good sense that comes from years of stressful work and management.

Bartlett has a good local reputation, they run a local arboretum with arborist and horticultural training courses.

The other side of how well they manage, may involve some internal confidential politics you will probably not hear of. They also charge a lot.

I don't like the idea of national chains companies, they seem to be more about making money than serving the local population. We would be better off with a lot more small businesses than national chains that don't seem to pay the workers what they are worth. And considering how much they charge the customers there is no excuse for that.
 

Daniel

Well-Known Member
a buddy of mine moved out of town and got a job with Bartlett. he is a great climber, They worked him hard as he was the only climber with a ton of experience at that office. He liked it pretty well. A lot fo that seemed to be his relationship with his direct superior, so that could vary greatly within one company. They helped him get a CDL and paid him OK (he was worth more). He gave a hot piss (marijuana only) and they fired him. Not sure if that was his first hot one or not.
 

evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
Seattle Tree Preservation sold to Bartlett a few years ago... Very few of the crew stayed to date. I haven't heard any word of positive from it.
 

27RMT0N

Well-Known Member
Location
WA
Seattle Tree Preservation sold to Bartlett a few years ago... Very few of the crew stayed to date. I haven't heard any word of positive from it.
STP is actually where I started doing tree work over a decade ago, at the time it was a great outfit to work for and a great place to learn the trade. Some really amazing climbers, boss who took care of his employees, and an old school but very professional attitude. A buddy of mine was working there just before the transition and yah, a lot of the guys left at that point. From what I gather, a lot of them just didn't like all the new rules and formalities. It went from a business the owner started and ran himself to a corporate entity.
 
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Jzack605

Well-Known Member
Location
Long island
I was pondering how I do think some of the rules will be a bit of a culture shock for many in a transitional situation like this. A lot of things are frowned upon, like 1 handing or dropping a peg without a line in it. I do believe they are all thoroughly thought through with safety in mind, many of them put safety ahead of production. As an employee that’s great, as a sales guy or owner that will be a learning curve no doubt for the extra time needed.
 

tomstrees

Active Member
a buddy of mine moved out of town and got a job with Bartlett. he is a great climber, They worked him hard as he was the only climber with a ton of experience at that office. He liked it pretty well. A lot fo that seemed to be his relationship with his direct superior, so that could vary greatly within one company. They helped him get a CDL and paid him OK (he was worth more). He gave a hot piss (marijuana only) and they fired him. Not sure if that was his first hot one or not.

That's just dumb unless there was a reason for the test requirement. Many of the box stores were screening for all drugs and background, even pot and thc. 50% or so were failing at Home Depot when I got hired there. They stopped doing that this year, may be temporary. As a result they are always understaffed which puts a big burden on those remaining. I understand the addictive nature of pot, but give me that anyday than a more serious drug, or the big pharma drugs and alcohol. I had a climber years ago and I would agree that the pot addiction was a problem and I freaked out over it stupidly. Other climbers I had were sober and more serious. Possibly a strong talk would help instead of behind the back manipulations.
 

Jzack605

Well-Known Member
Location
Long island
They test you upon hiring, and make it clear that random testing is possible. After being hired they never pulled me aside for it in two years, but I know a few guys that do get called in for them.

they were explicit when hiring that even though weed is getting legalized state by state, they still have to adhere to federal law. I’m sure there’s a similar deal at HD ordered by corporate but results may vary depending on local management and nuanced situations.
 

decreppo

New Member
Location
Charlottesville
Thanks guys. Sounds generally positive impressions of Bartlett. I’ve heard good things about the office that we’ll be under, Charlottesville, va. Apparently also the headquarters of the mid Atlantic region for Bartlett.

@evo do you have any more details about why people didn’t have anything positive to say? What were some of the complaints?

I feel like a lot is going to depend on how the management does their Job. In any profession, I think the people you work with makes a bigger impact on your enjoyment at work than anything else.

I feel much better after reading your comments, at least I have a better idea of what to expect. My wife actually read this thread and said she felt relieved after reading it, that’s huge!
 

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