Around this time last year, we put out a Blog post discussing the path of one of our ex-employees, Rob Dawson.
Rob moved out of Auckland and into a rural community and set up is own small business.
We are catching up with Rob again in this post to see how he is getting on a year later and what life is like in the country.
Rob moved to Waipu which is about an hour and a half north of Auckland and set up his company Waipu Tree Care.
The following is taken from a chat with Rob about how his first year in business has been.
Pro Climb Arborists: “So, how has the past year been?”
Rob: “Overall it has been very good. I didn’t really know what to expect but I am pleased with how things have developed. I feel like I have learned a lot about business and about myself. I have had lots of things that have challenged me which is always a good opportunity to grow.”
Pro Climb Arborists: “What have you found most challenging?”
Rob: “I think the main challenge has been adjusting to a different market. Prior to living in the country, I have spent many years living and working in urban environments. I have had to remember that what customers want and expect is different in rural environments. Luckily, I started my career back in England in a rural setting, so I am just trying to remember what I experienced there, although it was a long time ago. The way people view trees in the city is very different to the countryside and I had to adapt to this change quickly. Your reputation is also very important in a small community and people need to feel like they can trust you. That can be a hurdle to overcome when you are new face, and no one knows who you are.”
Pro Climb Arborists: “What have you enjoyed the most?”
Rob: “It has been fun getting to know a whole bunch of new people and seeing more of the local area. There is only so much you can see from main roads and I am constantly surprised by hidden gardens with cool trees all over the place. Everyone has been friendly and welcoming, and I have never had so many customers who bake for me. It caught me out at the start as I didn’t factor enough time on jobs for lunch time when I would be invited inside to eat freshy made scones at the table.”
Pro Climb Arborists: “What kind of work have you been doing?”
Rob: “I’ve had a very wide range to be honest. I am trying to target pruning work as I prefer it and in the long term it is more sustainable. Also, there are already established land clearance companies in the area, and I don’t see the point in trying to compete with them for that work. Having said that, I have had some large felling and removal jobs in the past year. My main stay is tree maintenance on lifestyle blocks. Many of the sections were cleared 20 or so years ago and now the replacement trees need maintenance. These are the jobs I like the best. But like most Arborists I do anything from Crane removals to hedge cutting.”
Pro Climb Arborists: “How has your business grown in the past year?”
Rob: “This time last year I had just moved up, I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t have any customers. A year later I am still in business and I have many customers, some of who I have worked for 3 or 4 times already. I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of work I have had. It will be a while before I am comfortable but if things continue the way they have I should be able to have a successful company for a long time. I am not trying to get huge or take over the world. I just want to keep myself and my subcontractors busy, which is happening.”
Pro Climb Arborists: “Where do you hope to go with this?”
Rob: “As I mentioned before, I’m not trying to get too big. Ideally, I’d like to keep things manageable and have myself and a small crew out doing high quality work. I want to keep the standards of work we offer high and be able to provide a personal service. If in 3 years’ time me and my crew are keeping busy working for our regular client base, I’ll be a very happy man. And if that’s not the case, I guess I’ll just think of something else.”
We will catch up with Rob again at a later date to see how things are progressing and whether he is managing to keep in shape after all the cakes and scones he is being served.