High Falls Tree Service in Rochester, New York, runs one crew through the winter and adds a second crew once spring hits, says owner Erik Matzky. That means devoting time to employee recruitment — both trying to bring back employees who were good performers in the past as well as finding quality additions.
Matzky says he’s found it works best to try out new employees during the winter months whenever possible to see if the fit seems good. If it turns out that they’re good candidates, great. If not, there’s still time to try someone else before things get really crazy in the spring, he notes.
“Winter is a time when you can evaluate whether a new employee is going to be productive,” he explains. “Or to see whether they like the industry enough to think of it as a career down the line.” Plus, he adds, this approach allows time to get new employees trained so the whole crew is ready to hit the ground running come spring.
“You can’t be monkeying around with that in the spring, that’s your busy time,” he says.
And once that busy time hits, Matzky says he tries to rotate employees through different crews “so that nobody is getting sick of each other … and we can find out who everyone is happiest working with.”
He adds that, fortunately, everyone tends to be excited in the spring to really get back to work, so morale tends to be good. “And my personal approach is to try not to overwork them. I give them their weekends, and we try to keep it down to 45 to 50 hours a week in the field, so they’re not getting burned out. Because there are still two to three more seasons to go in the year,” Matzky explains. “We probably lose some work because we’re not working 12- to 15-hour days and weekends, but everybody is getting to spend time with their families and they’re happier.”