by Danny Monahan
Small Business Administration
Photo: Owners Jim and Lisa Myers at DJ's Tree Service headquarters in Colchester, VT. Photo by Danny Monahan.
One truck, a chainsaw and a few hand tools is all Jim Myers and his former business partner had when they started their tree service business.
“Our first customer said he wouldn’t hire us unless we were insured. We told him ‘of course, we’re insured, but we need a deposit before we get started.’ We took the deposit and bought insurance,” said Myers smiling as he retold the story.
Photo: DJ's Tree Service truck in a recent parade. Courtesy photo.
Forty years later DJ’s Tree Service is a multimillion-dollar enterprise with a fleet of trucks and state-of-the-art equipment. The business, located on Depot Road in Colchester, is owned and operated by Myers and his wife Lisa.
Back in the late 1970s Jim Myers and Dean Bumstead were groundskeepers at the University of Vermont who often performed tree service as side work. They decided to strike out on their own, but it wasn’t easy. The 1980s were a trying time for the company and the Myers. While raising a family, Jim was working constantly, Lisa was working fulltime at the U.S. Forest Service and was DJ’s bookkeeper at night. Then Bumstead decided to leave the business and the Myers had to buy him out.
Although it was a struggle, the business was growing. When a piece of commercial property close to their home became available, they jumped at the chance to purchase it. With a Small Business Administration guaranteed loan they obtained through their bank in 1991, they built a housing facility for equipment on their new piece of land. As the business picked up, Lisa resigned from the U.S. Forest Service and went to work fulltime at DJ’s. Six years ago the company outgrew the space they built in 1991 and built a new 10,000 square foot facility to house that equipment. Today the company is one of the largest professional tree care, removal and restoration services in northern Vermont employing 16 people.
Photo: Above: DJ's Tree Service crane hoists a tree. Courtesy photo.
“We are very appreciative of our hardworking dedicated long-time employees. Without their commitment to detail and hard work DJ's would not be where we are today. We are extremely thankful for each of them,” said Lisa Myers.
A recently added service from the company is creating and selling mulch. When removing a client's tree, they would run into the challenge of proper disposal. So as a solution to the problem, the Myers purchased a Bandit Beast recycler. The recycler is capable of processing large unusable waste wood, to create high-quality mulch, which is then sold to residential or commercial clients. This machine can process tree/land clearing debris right down to the stump as well as processing construction debris. To assist in the operation of the recycler and sell the mulch, DJ’s Tree Service hired a few new employees.
The purchase of the recycler allowed the company to take advantage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Part of the act made changes to Section 179 of the IRS Code, which allows small businesses to deduct the entire price of new machinery and equipment during the year of the purchase. Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, businesses could only deduct a portion of the price of the equipment each year.
A company that has been in business for four decades also has a long list of loyal customers.
“I’ve used DJ’s Tree Service many times over 15 years and have referred many people because I know the Myer’s family will far exceed any customer’s expectations,” said Tim Barrett, a DJ’s Tree Service Customer. “They are always prompt, professional, efficient and courteous. If you need tree work done, give this long time Vermont family owned business a call.”
It is a true family enterprise. All three of the Myers' children are involved in the business. Their sons work at DJ's fulltime. Bobby is a foreman/crane operator and Jacob is an estimator/equipment operator. Their daughter Jessica works part-time in the office. The succession plan is for them to take over operations in the coming years.
"All of our kids are involved. We have been very fortunate to have great kids that have taken an interest in the business. Over the past few years, we've increased our sales and have been increasing our number of fulltime employees. When our children take over, they are going to really take our business to the next level," said Lisa Myers.
The Small Business Administration named DJ’s Tree Service the 2019 Vermont Family-Owned Business of the Year.