Asplundh Tree Expert Co., an international utility contractor based in Willow Grove, Pa., is celebrating its 85th anniversary throughout 2013.
On September 12, more than 350 employees of the Asplundh headquarters facility on Blair Mill Road gathered for an afternoon of old-fashioned fun, food and entertainment “under the big top” on the company’s front lawn. To kick off the celebration, the Asplundh family members, who serve as executives of this privately held company, dedicated a freshly-planted Princeton elm, a cultivar that is resistant to Dutch Elm disease. President and CEO Craig Adams of PECO, a utility that Asplundh has continuously served from its origins in 1928, also participated in the commemorative tree planting.
Three Asplundh brothers founded the company on August 28, 1928 in Glenside, Pa. Known for its high-visibility fleet of orange trucks, Asplundh focused on providing tree pruning and removal services to electric and telephone utilities. Among its earliest customers were Philadelphia Electric Company (now PECO), Public Service Company of New Jersey (now PSE&G), Jersey Central Power & Light Company (a FirstEnergy company), Pennsylvania Power & Light Company (now PPL Electric Utilities) and American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T).
The family owned company, now managed by its third generation, has developed a number of industry-accepted innovations over the years. In response to the need for greater safety and better productivity, Asplundh developed the first commercial brush chippers in 1949 and the first fully insulated aerial lifts to get workers into the trees more efficiently and safely in 1958. Asplundh also initiated a joint research project to scientifically demonstrate the safe use of herbicides for vegetation control. This project, initiated in 1952, remains active and continues to validate the proper use of herbicides.
Asplundh’s tree pruning resources are often a welcome sight in the wake of severe weather such as hurricanes and ice storms. Nearly every region in the U.S. and Canada has seen the caravans of work trucks and crews, drawn from all around the country, working alongside utility crews to help restore power. Asplundh’s experience in clearing trees and brush from around live power lines has been recognized by electric utility companies as an important asset since the late 1930s when a series of devastating storms ravaged the East Coast of the United States.
Asplundh’s operations have expanded geographically to provide vegetation management services to approximately 3,000 utilities and municipalities across the U.S. and Canada, and overseas in Australia and New Zealand. The scope of operations has also expanded, offering many specialized services ranging from line construction to electrical equipment testing.
With a workforce of more than 32,000 service professionals and a fleet of over 30,000 pieces of specialized equipment and vehicles, Asplundh’s diversified operations have grown to include right of way maintenance for railroads, pipelines and highways, vegetation management with herbicides, electric and gas construction services, meter reading and smart meter installation, street lighting and traffic signalization services, electrical testing and commissioning, and more. However, the core business remains true to the company’s name. Pruning and removing trees to help maintain reliable power continues as the vanguard of Asplundh’s operations.