WHEN a working arborist wants to see how his new equipment will work twenty foot off the ground, they’re normally forced to wait until at least their next assignment.
That little problem has now been solved by Treekit who, along with providing most of the equipment you’ll need for rigging, climbing, pruning and safety, also supply a tree at their new base on the outskirts of Bournemouth.
The idea of making the 8.5metre oak the focal point of a site which has only been open to the public since early May is certainly original, as co-owner Mike Storey explained.
“We wanted somewhere to be able to demonstrate equipment as it would be used in the field,” said Mike, who founded Treekit with his brother Max.
“We always had the idea of installing a tree and a unit was located, part of which offered us nine metres into the eaves, so we went through the process of sourcing a tree.
“One of our colleagues works on a local estate and he found a structure suitable for tree climbing, demonstration and training. It was from an area on the estate that was due to be thinned over the next few years so we paused development work for the internal fit-out of the store until we had the tree installed.
“The additional work for the building, such as a mezzanine floor and various other infrastructure, was put in afterwards because we wouldn’t have had the space to stand the tree up once we’d finished all the building work – we had to get the tree into the building and erect it before we could fit out the building.
“We manufactured a very large base plate – a structural engineer guided us through the process – and that enabled us to secure it to the concrete slab of the building.
“It will slowly season and according to our structural engineer, oak gains strength as it dries so we hope it will give us several years of service.”
If you’re still not sure exactly how they got the tree into their new HQ, Treekit have helpfully provided a step-by-step guide to the process on their social media channels.
But the installation of a tree on the premises is far from just a clever marketing idea, it’s very much there to aid training and help develop the skills of the arborists of the future.
Mike added: “A couple of years ago we realised our previous premises were becoming just a little too tight – we have a couple of brands we distribute to other arb re-sellers and so managing stock was becoming difficult and it was necessary to find somewhere with a bit more space.
“We originally planned to create somewhere in around 18 months or so on the same site but during the first lockdown this opportunity came up.
“We always wanted premises with some height and our previous base didn’t have that. We wanted something on the site we could offer out for the industry to use: instructors, trainers, professionals; the local college has already shown an interest in bringing their apprentices over for an introduction into the modern techniques and equipment.
“We’ve now got a facility we can use for training, for workshops; we’ve run workshops before but in the winter it is difficult because of weather restraints.
“We’ve also installed beams so it’s connected into the web of the steel work of the building allowing us to demonstrate and teach SRTs (single rope techniques). It gives us the ability to run events in a comfortable environment throughout the year.”
The business itself made the move from their previous premises near Bournemouth Airport around two months ago, before opening to the public when current Covid restrictions allowed.
Mike boasts more than 20 years’ experience as an arborist, working for much of that time in Germany, and set up the business with his brother Max less than ten years ago, the pair driven by a desire to improve the standing of the industry amongst the wider population.
“We want to elevate the status of tree people generally, because they are not really recognised for the work they do,” added Mike. “They deserve a lot more respect and it needs to be understood that they are highly professional people – they deserve decent equipment and decent training and we want to ensure more people have access to it.
“We offer the opportunity for people to come and see the equipment hands-on and get decent, honest advice as to which product is appropriate to that person at that time in their career.
“We’re passionate about the industry and also excited about product development.”