(L-R) are Dennis Gallagher, sales representative of Westchester Tractor; Edward Wade, president of Wade Tree Care Inc.; and Frank Labarbera, retired of Westchester Tractor.
Founded in 1988, Wade Tree Care Inc. in Mount Kisco, N.Y., serves Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties. As well as Connecticut, and focuses primarily on residential tree service, as well as some municipal work and some landscaping and drainage.
Prior to 1988, company founder Edward M. Wade learned the tree business working for other tree care professionals.
"On day one it was just me, one guy, a truck, a very old chipper and a stump grinder," Wade said.
From those humble beginnings, the company has grown to offer tree care pruning for aesthetics, safety and the health of trees; tree spraying for insect and disease control; and tree fertilization.
A few years ago, the company made an interesting diversification as the result of some work that they were doing with a local plumber.
"All of the local contractors, when laying pipe for sewage or drainage or any other issue, would dig right through the root system of the tree," Wade said. "The tree would end up dying and falling over because it's been compromised. So, we have come into play tunnelling under the roots.
"We do a lot of air spading where we go right under the trees," he added. "We use a handheld air spade; it's the same tool we would use for vertical mulching. The same type of equipment comes up when we need to get sewer lines installed out to houses and the homeowners did not want to cut the trees down or dig through the root systems, which is what everyone else told them would have to be done. The plumber contacted us and we went right underneath the trees' root systems, and that's how we ended up in the excavating business.
"Most of our excavating is on a relatively small basis, digging a small foundation, a front stoop, ripping a driveway out, things like that. For that type of work, we have a Kubota KXO57 compact excavator and a Kubota KOO8 mini-excavator that we purchased from Westchester Tractor."
Wade is another Westchester Tractor customer who has a long history of purchasing his equipment with Frank Labarbera, who just recently retired from Westchester Tractor. Wade enjoyed the straightforward honesty and integrity of working with Labarbera and is now looking forward with working with his new sales representative, Dennis Gallagher Sr., who adds to the mix many years of experience in operating and servicing the equipment at Westchester Tractor.
To process the wood from their various tree projects over the years, Wade has exclusively purchased Bandit chippers from Westchester Tractor.
"Actually, when I bought my first Bandit, I did have [another chipper] that I wanted to trade, and I had figured out what I believed the trade number should be," he said. "When I called Frank and told him what I thought that number was we were immediately on the same page. It seemed to work that way every time we made a deal. Over the years, I have stuck with the Bandit chippers, and they have worked very well for us."
Today, Wade Tree Care has grown significantly — it has 14 employees, which is down a little bit from before COVID, Wade said.
The company also owns a variety of tree sprayers, a pair of Bandit chippers, a couple of stump grinders, an 80-ft. Altec elevator on a Freightliner chassis, two Ford chip trucks, two Altec spray rigs, two FMC spray rigs and a CMC 72-ft. track lift.
Over the past several years, another aspect of Wade's business that has grown significantly is insect control, specifically, ticks. The tick population has exploded, and with the spread of Lyme disease there is great concern over controlling the tick population. They spray most customers' property on a monthly basis, using primarily organic cedar oils and at times, some synthetics are used.
Wade's loyalty to Westchester Tractor and the equipment it sells carries all the way down to the chainsaws that he uses.
"I met Frank when he was a Husqvarna rep and that's when I started buying Husqvarna chainsaws," Wade said. "When he went to work for Westchester Tractor, they were selling Husqvarna chainsaws, thank goodness.
"Frank also puts the effort into finding the equipment for me," he added. "At one point, we needed a particular Bandit stump grinder and he and I ended up going all the way to Binghamton, N.Y., to get it. Frank is the most honest person I've met. I have dealt with a lot of people over the years, and he has earned my loyalty through his honesty."
When it came time to buying excavating equipment from Westchester Tractor, Wade chose Kubota. When asked why, Frank Labarbera answered the question for him: "He like the reports on the product. He knew the product was going to work — the Kubota machines are easy to operate, and they are easy to get parts for. Kubota Credit Corporation have always had the lowest financing rates available anywhere.
"The other great thing about the Kubota is that it comes with all the options already on it," Wade added. "It came already plumbed for a hammer; it came with a thumb; and the numbers were right. What more can you ask for?
"Since I have owned Kubotas, they have been virtually trouble-free machines. I have changed the tracks and I have serviced them and that's the extent of the money that I've had to put into them. They hold up even when we are using them regularly with a hammer.
"The Bandit chippers that we've purchased have operated trouble-free and nothing has a more punishing life than a woodchipper. We do go through clutches, that's perfectly normal. When we need parts, we call Westchester Tractor, and they always have everything in stock that we need. The one time that we did have an issue with a machine where I felt like we were chasing a ghost and just couldn't figure it out, I brought it up to Westchester Tractor and they fixed it while I was waiting, right there on the spot."
When asked what the turning point was in the growth of his business Wade answered, "I landed a job doing some landscaping that turned out to be far more than landscaping. I actually ended up building a couple of houses on the property. I had 18 guys working on this one property for eight years.
"I ended up buying a fleet of earthmoving equipment just for this job. It was a 50-acre estate. In addition to the houses, we built a 150 by 50 equipment barn. We built three ponds. We even got into setting outdoor artwork with cranes. We built a nine-pool waterfall down the side of a mountain.
"We actually assisted in re-erecting a 60-foot-tall stainless-steel tree. The artist built 16 different varieties of trees into this single 60-foot-tall tree. We built a 12-foot by 12-foot by 10-foot-deep footing for the tree itself. It was an unbelievable project. Most people don't realize that projects like the one that I just described are really not unusual."
COVID has certainly made one significant change in my business, he said.
"Until COVID, I had never met most of my customers. We got hired over the phone, did the work during the week, never met the customer. When everybody started working at home we finally got to meet and know our customers. They'd come out to the lawn while we were working and say that it's nice to meet the people who have been caring for our properties."
For more information, visit www.wadetreecare.com and www.wtractor.com/. CEG
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