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The Arb Endgame


dmtowduall
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I'm after some much needed advice and help. I'd greatly, appreciate any feedback or constructive criticism. Hopefully, this finds someone, who has been in a similar situation.

 

I work as a team leader/climber 5 days a week (self employed). For two different companies and every other weekend do my own jobs. I have a passion for my job and have developed a real interest for all things arboriculture related over the years. I have invested my own time and money acquiring all the relevant experience, tickets and kit to make myself more employable and efficient over the years.

 

I am paid well with the combination of consistent work. Which I am extremely grateful for. That being said, I'm struggling to see any light at the end of the tunnel in terms of longevity, both physically and monetary within the next 5 years.

 

Monetary. With the current climate, the market being over saturated and unregulated. Jobs are scarce (compared to 5 years ago), usually underbid and unenjoyable. As a result, jobs aren't paced smoothly and usually rushed with interest and morale slowly dropping. (Appreciate, you have to keep jobs rolling in. However, its turning into a never ending cycle for my employers, when they have costs to cover and forced to take on jobs). 

 

Physically. My body is starting to pick up injuries and slowly degrade. I'm only 28. Actively exercise, eat well and don't drink. Use SRT etc, mechanical machinery when/where possible and opt for less fatiguing/taxing methods to carry out work (even if it adds, a little longer). Yet, feel like Tyson Fury after he got knocked out by Deontay Wider in the 12th round, every day I roll my carcass out of bed. (Having to stretch before and after work, for an hour to feel like a normal human being again). 

 

I cant justify asking for an increase in pay. My employers profit margin is small, on top of each job. Combined with, not having the means to resolve issues with bids/quote in this current market (Which, I totally understand and appreciate).

 

There is no incentive to start up, on my own. I have seen the good/bad side of this over the years. Having good/consistent pay week in and week out, far out weighs this. Opposed to covering costs for kit, quoting, finding/keeping good employees and dealing with day to day mishaps in your own time. All whilst having a life outside of work.

 

I'd like to transition into something else before its too late or look to try and save my love for Arb before its extinguished. I'm still relatively young, keen and my body isn't broken. I'd like to be able to commit to financial commitments (mortgage, kids etc) without worry.

 

I have considered reducing the amount of days I climb / work on site. Using those days to re-train, whilst retaining some financial security and being proactive in resolving this problem. 

 

I have some questions, if anyone is able to help. 

 

. Is there much demand in Tree consultancy or does it face the same problems? (Allows me to still climb. However, gives me some rest and options long-term).

 

. Anyone who's worked abroad, NZ, CA and AU. Do they face the same issues? / would it inject a new lease of life into my job?

 

. Has anyone who's done rope access, found its a viable option alongside tree work?

 

. Is there anyone who's transitioned into a new job that was in a similar situation, that has advice, that may be of interest/suitable? 

 

Thank you, in advance and for taking the time to read this post. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Something all climbers are faced with eventually (except @Mick Dempsey who is hard as nails). You're doing the right thing looking ahead at your age though as many leave it too long.


I personally moved on from climbing at the age of 40, but my body probably would preferred if it'd have got out a little bit before that. 32 was the age at which I peaked, after that it was steadily downhill...but we are all different (especially Mick).

 

Have you considered transitioning to a larger company who may have more managerial roles? Theres several large companies, and some might even give you the opportunity to on the tools from time to time if you fancy it.

 

Consultancy is certainly a route many choose to go down, but obviously theres not room for every single tree surgeon. Theres always ways of making yourself stand out from the crowd though. I take it you are specifically looking to move into another area of trees?

For my part the only thing I do involving trees is Picus testing, which gets me out of the house the odd day or so. 

 

What other skills or interests do you have?

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Following on from old man Mick's advice, I'm a spritely 54 and still climb or groundy 4 days a week. I run my own business and try not to beast myself or the team (barring the odd underpriced job). I use fridays to quote, run the show etc or as a spare day if weather mucks up the diary.

I'd use the money from your Ferrari to set yourself up! - I'm assuming you have one as you work 5 days a week climbing (circa £200 a day), plus every other weekend, no mortgage kids or drinking. You are at peak disposable income stage, it only gets tougher from this point.

Set yourself up and be you own boss, with the pros and cons of that, or work for others and be prepared to be run ragged during the week, but you get weekends and evenings off which as a boss you'll be working some of.

I do a bit of Tree Surveying (on a friday), quite a nice change of pace, but I'd get bored doing it all the time - at least half your time will be in front of a screen writing reports. It ain't very exciting!

Dunno if that helps at all.

Personally I'd stop working weekends and enjoy my weekends more, or save up for your own show!

Jan.

 

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43 minutes ago, Steve Bullman said:

Something all climbers are faced with eventually (except @Mick Dempsey who is hard as nails). You're doing the right thing looking ahead at your age though as many leave it too long.


I personally moved on from climbing at the age of 40, but my body probably would preferred if it'd have got out a little bit before that. 32 was the age at which I peaked, after that it was steadily downhill...but we are all different (especially Mick).

 

Have you considered transitioning to a larger company who may have more managerial roles? Theres several large companies, and some might even give you the opportunity to on the tools from time to time if you fancy it.

 

Consultancy is certainly a route many choose to go down, but obviously theres not room for every single tree surgeon. Theres always ways of making yourself stand out from the crowd though. I take it you are specifically looking to move into another area of trees?

For my part the only thing I do involving trees is Picus testing, which gets me out of the house the odd day or so. 

 

What other skills or interests do you have?

 

Thanks for the reply Steve, appreciate it.

 

I've spoken to other companies and those working for them. Unfortunately, they all have similar issues. Some being more proactive in trying to resolve the problems. Others, blindly ignoring them. Until, they re-surface in the future as a bigger problem. 

 

Would love the opportunity to take on more of a managerial role (I'm currently looking into it. Struggling to find a company where I live, so would have to relocate entirely). Would like to be able to still go on the tools "occasionally". More so, out of enjoyment and having credibility. But, don't want to blur the lines when a company cant source a climber and ends up turning it from a short term fix to their problems to a long term solution (which I've seen happen before). 

 

I'd like to transition and still do work with Trees and Arb. If its a viable option. I've done the Level 3 Arb/Forestry diploma and additional courses that compliment it. Doing the level 4 +/ PTI course or even higher is costly and requires a lot of time.(I wouldn't mind, if there was a demand for it and plenty of job opportunities).

 

That sounds tidy, sounds like you can have a good work/life balance and still enjoy/be involved in Tree/Arb work. I've only used the Picus a handful of times. Really handy for Tree Assessments. I struggle using it with trees with heavy buttressed trees though.

 

Love anything outdoors. Outdoors climbing/bouldering, surfing. Tasks with creative problem solving, working in team and having a good laugh.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Mick Dempsey said:

Srsly though.

Get some gear and start on your own.

Then you can choose whether to do something on a certain day or not.

Hi Mick, thanks for the response.

 

I've thought about starting up on my own. Its not a viable option. I have all the relevant kit etc (Anything and everything you'd expect a full team to go out with. Except, a chipper I can hire or borrow in). Unfortunately. For me, personally. It feels like a race to the bottom.

 

"There is no incentive to start up, on my own. I have seen the good/bad side of this over the years. Having good/consistent pay week in and week out, far out weighs this. Opposed to covering costs for kit, quoting, finding/keeping good employees and dealing with day to day mishaps in your own time. All whilst having a life outside of work."

 

Working every other weekend as an experiment/tester for the last year has shown me this. Why opting for a transition into something else is more viable for me. 

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31 minutes ago, jfc said:

Following on from old man Mick's advice, I'm a spritely 54 and still climb or groundy 4 days a week. I run my own business and try not to beast myself or the team (barring the odd underpriced job). I use fridays to quote, run the show etc or as a spare day if weather mucks up the diary.

I'd use the money from your Ferrari to set yourself up! - I'm assuming you have one as you work 5 days a week climbing (circa £200 a day), plus every other weekend, no mortgage kids or drinking. You are at peak disposable income stage, it only gets tougher from this point.

Set yourself up and be you own boss, with the pros and cons of that, or work for others and be prepared to be run ragged during the week, but you get weekends and evenings off which as a boss you'll be working some of.

I do a bit of Tree Surveying (on a friday), quite a nice change of pace, but I'd get bored doing it all the time - at least half your time will be in front of a screen writing reports. It ain't very exciting!

Dunno if that helps at all.

Personally I'd stop working weekends and enjoy my weekends more, or save up for your own show!

Jan.

 

 

Hi Jan,

 

Thanks for the response. I'm glad to hear you're still climbing and working on the ground too! You've hit the nail on the head. 

 

Unfortunately, the pros of owning and running a tree company are outweighed by the cons. That is, for me personally.

 

"I have seen the good/bad side of this over the years. Having good/consistent pay week in and week out, far out weighs this. Opposed to covering costs for kit, quoting, finding/keeping good employees and dealing with day to day mishaps in your own time. All whilst having a life outside of work."

 

Working every other weekend as an experiment/tester for the last year has shown me this. Why opting for a transition into something else is more viable for me."

 

I'd love to speak to you more about the Tree Surveying. (Get more info, on quals/general info). If I could do that alongside climbing (give me more longevity and also rest). It would create options for the future, which would be more viable. 

 

 

Edited by dmtowduall
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Hi,

 

Every area is different but the feedback I get is that there is still a market for domestic tree work if you are:- professional, polite, turn up as promised, and reasonably priced (definitely no need to be cheapest) if someone is ringing every arbish person to get quotes then you give your price and walk away. You could always sub in help/machines as needed. 

I fully understand if this isn't for you but it would allow you get away from full time climbing and potentially give you a better balance.

 

Have you thought about getting involved with Arb training? 

You would stay in the industry and could still subbie climb. Talk to your local training centres for requirements/opportunities?

Or... check out your local councils planning dept for tree officer positions?

You have loads of experience to offer and young enough to change direction.

 

Just few things that came to mind, hope it works out for you.

 

Gordon

 

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I was like you for years, adamant I wasn't going to end up a principal contractor, racing to the bottom with every chancer etc.

 

Aaaaaand now I'm doing it. One of those inevitabilities.

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