I like bumping into my competitors in the Blue Earth area,” says John Thate, owner of Thate’s Tree Service out of Fairmont. “Not because I enjoy competition, but because I have respect for them. Blue Earth is very fortunate to have a good many options for tree service and care.”
And that includes Thate’s Tree Service, which covers more than 10 towns around the I-90 area. Thate’s Tree Service began in the summer of 1977. So, if you did the math correctly, you will have figured out they are celebrating their 40th year of service this summer.
With a 12-man crew, and multiple jobs going on almost constantly, as well as an arborist on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Thate says he is very fortunate to have such a passionate, knowledgeable crew available to his customer base.
So where does a person get a passion for trees?
“My dad grew up a farm boy and had jobs in the construction business growing up. There is nothing that man does not know, and he can solve any problem,” says Thate. And that is only half of where his enthusiasm for arbory comes from.
Thate’s grandfather grew up in Pilot Grove and was a biology teacher and grew bees on his farm.
“He would take me outside and show me different flowers, plants and trees, while we collected honey, went duck hunting, and picked gooseberries for pie,” says Thate. “Nature was that man’s life and he helped me experience it first hand. I guess that’s where my interest in trees began.”
His interest grew from there as he worked in junior high at a local garden center in Fairmont. From laying sod to trimming trees, Thate’s experience grew and grew.
To this day, Thate says he still gets “jazzed” about his job. How does one get so excited about chopping and trimming trees?
Naturally, there is more to it than that. Thate says it is the problem solving that goes behind the tree care that drives him to do what he loves.
“I just love big problems and getting to solve them,” he says. “I have had so much experience solving problems related to tree removal and I know if I can’t do it, I have an incredible, knowledgeable team working behind me. I have to have those guys to be as successful as I am.”
In the spring, it is time to begin planting the garden, sprucing up the yard, and maybe doing some tree and hedge trimming, but Thate says not all tree species like to be cut in the spring.
Thate says, depending on the species, it’s better to wait until late summer or early fall. But, if there is apprehension for the safety of a home, farm, or other target of concern, it is important to get a risk evaluation done.
And, speaking of risk evaluations, Thate says there’s another thing that tree owners need to know. Ash borers, a very invasive insect species, have been found in surrounding county ash trees. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been quarantining the counties with the invasive species.
It’s important for those with ash trees to be wise when trimming or cutting and to get an experienced, certified arborist to look at your ash trees if you believe they may have ash borers in them. “Back in the ’50s, arborists said when the dutch elms disease broke out to replace those elm trees with ash trees. Now we are seeing another issue with the ash trees,” says Thate. “Now we as arborists know that when you are replanting trees after removing trees, it is important to plant a variation.”
And it is important to know this certified arborist says there are a required amount of trees that need to be replanted once a certain amount of trees are removed.
So when is it time to chop a tree down versus just trimming it up? Thate says there are many different components when looking at removing a tree.
Evaluating the environment around the tree, the species of the tree, and the health of the tree are just a few things Thate looks at when deciding whether a tree should be cut down or not.
“Even before it comes down to cutting a tree, it’s good for property owners to take inventory, understand the species that are on your property and how it will relate to your property whether it’s a shade tree or fruit tree or what have you, and how to take care of it.”
So, when getting a tree evaluation or are in need of a trim or a tree removal, how do you differentiate the good companies from the bad and the ugly?
Thate says there are certain levels of credibility with arborists, and any arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) know what they are doing. There are different levels of arborists, as well. From certified arborists, climbing arborists, to master arborists each arborist certified by the ISA have high credibility and take educational standardized testing to make sure they know what they are doing.
“Some of my guys on my team had to take the test a few times to pass,” says Thate. “We need to make sure our arborists know what they are doing. In the long haul, you want to find an arborist who is committed to their customers. and you see that by how much knowledge and resources they have invested in their business.”
For Thate’s Tree Service, they have invested many years and many dollars in the proper equipment and education to tackle any job.
“The ability to respond to a certain problem with certain projects requires not only professionals with the proper background, but the proper equipment to do those projects. We have to know how to handle the trees we are tackling.”
Trees are a beautiful, necessary part of human life on earth. And when it comes down to keeping those trees healthy and growing properly, or knowing when to turn those trees into mulch, it is best to leave it to the professionals.
“Mother nature knows what she’s doing, but even she needs help once in a while,” says Thate.