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ABC Professional Tree Services, Inc. August 09 www. bus- ex. com 201 Growingout onalimb In just a few years, ABC Professional Tree Services has grown into a 1,500- employee goliath of tree care, with increasingly national reach and a strong culture of safety and excellence. Greg Andrews learns how the minority- owned business developed, funded and managed such rapid growth I n less than eight years, ABC Professional Tree Services has grown into a national powerhouse in the tree- care industry, providing right- of- way clearing and related services to utility companies and other customers from coast to coast. The family- owned business was founded in January 2002, and in 2008 it had annual revenues of nearly $ 66 million.

202 www. bus- ex. com August 09 From just 19 crews, Houston- based ABC has grown in this time to a company with 1,500 employees- more than 500 crews scattered throughout states from New York and Connecticut to Tennessee and Florida. The company, which is overseen by president Rocio Jasso and qualifi es as a minority- owned business under the Small Business Administration, has made it known that it intends to continue expanding into new markets, such as the state of California. Jasso serves as a member of the Houston Minority Business Owners council and is active in other industry groups as well. Customers are mainly public and privately owned utilities, including electricity production and distribution giants such as Northeast Utilities, Entergy, Centerpoint Energy, Georgia Power, Progress Energy, First Energy, Dominion Power and National Grid. The tree- care industry is widely known for its employee- retention struggles, with many new workers fi nding the business too diffi cult and dangerous to stick with over the long term. ABC has battled that trend with extensive training and pre- employment screening, and by making safety the highest priority. By boosting safety- employees can take online coursework to augment what they are taught on the job site- ABC believes it can boost employee longevity with the company, reducing its costs over the long term by reducing the need to train new employees. ABC also prides itself on providing a strong benefi ts package to workers, another key retention tool, and it uses its Web site to honor its employees of the month, one of several regular awards and recognitions it gives to employees at all levels. Many businesses struggle with growing as rapidly as ABC has, especially when much of the growth has been done through acquisitions that have given ABC control over tree companies in locations far from its Houston headquarters. Keeping the culture of a business, particularly a small family- owned fi rm, in place as a business expands so rapidly, often poses challenges for even the best- run companies. ABC has countered that risk by putting repeatable and easily duplicated procedures in place that refl ect tried- and- true practices learned not only from the past eight years but in the decades of experience that the company's founders gained prior to starting ABC in 2002. Even though its customer base is mainly utility companies that are somewhat recession-resistant, the company has felt the impacts of the economic slowdown, seeking out new growth opportunities and putting a strong focus on cost containment by making employees more effi cient in any way possible. ABC also uses technology to help it manage its far-fl ung business from its Houston headquarters. Workers punch in and out on digital time clocks that use fi ngerprint recognition biometrics technology to ensure workers are not Forestry Equipment of VA stocks six standard overcenter, insulated, aerial lift trucks for immediate delivery. Other FEVA capabilities include custom designed trucks with special features like power inverters, aluminum fl at decks, custom in- house painting and many others. Our twenty plus years of experience and dedication to the tree care industry creates long time, loyal and satisfi ed customers. Forestry Equipment of VA Plastic Composites ( PCC) is a proud partner of ABC Tree Services, serving ABC's rapid growth. " ABC is now a top customer of Plastic Composites, receiving fi berglass-tough aerial tower lift buckets, guards, and accessories," said Warren Eddy, PCC's inside sales manager. " ABC, while having many fl eet trucks, operates a very lean company; being very knowledgeable in what they need." Plastic Composites