Arbor Age and its sister publications — Landscape and Irrigation, Outdoor Power Equipment and SportsTurf — have embarked on an editorial quest to provide you with information about the current economy, the stimulus package, and what it all means to the green industry. Our findings will be presented during the coming weeks on our Web sites, followed by in-depth articles in our upcoming hard copy issues. In this installment, we spoke with Eric Duchinsky, member services director, International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
AA: What impact will the passing of the economic stimulus have on tree care industry professionals?
Duchinsky: Hopefully, the money going to the state and local governments will relieve the pressure to cut services, like tree maintenance, or to allow for training travel. Staff training, travel, and not immediately essential services are the first things cut from states and municipalities. Utility arborists may benefit from the infrastructure investments.
AA: What advice, if any, do you have for ISA members — or tree care industry professionals in general — during these tough economic times?
This recession is a reminder to stay sharp, listen to your customers, and to continuously improve your operations and your personal skills.Duchinsky: Operations should run as if tough economic times are normal. Continuous process improvement, excellent customer relationships, unique services, efficient operations, investing in staff education, and effective communications are important anytime. These goals are for any profession. They will minimize the pain of tough economic times and maximize the good times.
AA: How has the recession affected ISA members most acutely?
Duchinsky: The recession creates a focus on efficiencies. Loss of tax revenue limits municipality budgets. Companies are cutting unprofitable operations. The well-run organizations are staying busy but with less booked business. Arborists and organizations expecting to rest on the past when the phone always rang and work was plentiful are surprised at the downturn. Arborists interested in staying sharp and hungry for improvement will weather this recession better. Green industries are still faring better than many other professions.
AA: What is your outlook on the economy long term?
Duchinsky: I am not an economist, by any means. Any first-year business student can tell you everything has a cycle. Strangely enough, this simple, common sense thought seems to have blown by the highly paid executives ignoring the “rainy days” around the corner. This recession is a reminder to stay sharp, listen to your customers, and to continuously improve your operations and your personal skills. Now is the time to prepare for the “sunny days.” Don’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring.
– John Kmitta reporting